Pigeons, the Mister Men and Charles Darwin were the unlikely subjects of a joint science lesson at Hillcroft School in Caterham recently as children began a study of genetics and heredity.
Last year the school, which is not far from Darwin’s home at Downe in Kent, opened a Darwin-themed Walk in the ground, and Hillcroft kept up its link when it paid host to a visit to Darwin Trust member and pigeon enthusiast John Ross, as well as the scientist’s great great grandson, Randal Keynes.
“Darwin was fascinated by pigeons and bred them in the build-up to writing the Origin of Species,” explained Tom Holloway, Hillcroft’s science leader. “Because of our links to the Trust, we were lucky enough to have John come along and bring some pigeons with him, to demonstrate the concept of genetics and hereditary features.
“The Mister Men and Little Misses were involved because we got the children to imagine what it would be like if some of them had children, and what they would look like! They came up with some wonderfully imaginative pictures and had a lot of fun with it, but at the same time, it was a superb way to teach the lesson that we were trying to get across to them.”
Hillcroft knows all about family likeness and shared characteristics – the school is part of the GLF group, a chain of more than a dozen schools across the south east of England managed in a collaborative fashion between staff members.
“We’re very lucky to have and we’re very proud of our connection to the Darwin Trust, so it was wonderful that they were able to come along and teach the children such a fascinating lesson in such a creative, enjoyable way,” added Mr Holloway. “It teaches the children a science lesson and also makes them feel proud of their school, which is a wonderful thing.”
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