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Learning more about Ecology

Learning more about Ecology
28 September 2018

Robert Batty from Oban U3A on his experience of becoming a U3A summer school tutor for the first time

I have been a member of U3A for six years and organise Oban U3A’s Science group. I have never had an opportunity to attend a summer school until this year and I went in at the deep end as a tutor on Ecology at the U3A Scotland Summer School.

Some U3A members had asked for an Ecology Topic and so it was already on the programme before I got involved. What were they expecting? I was told that they had mentioned climate change and renewable energy among other things. This was good because my background is in behavioural ecology of marine animals and since I have worked on the environmental impact of marine energy, I was able to at least attempt to satisfy this request.

Trying to make it as engaging and interactive as possible, I included a practical experiment on foraging (by the attendees) behaviour and it worked!

On the last day, we had a debate on “which is the greater threat to the future of humankind, climate change or plastic?” Two participants kindly prepared 5 minute presentations to kick off what turned out to be a lively discussion.

It was a great experience for me; the participants asked so many questions and had such a lot to contribute, making it lots of fun.

Having done it, I recommend leading a group because although it takes work and preparation – you in turn learn so much – it is self-help collaborative learning at its best.

Do you run a science subject U3A interest group? Let us know what you do by submitting a story above.

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