Child’s play in the open air

Claire Reid at the Ecology Centre, Kinghorn
Claire Reid at the Ecology Centre, Kinghorn

swapping the classroom for learning in the great outdoors will bring great benefits to Fife schoolchildren.

Claire Reid, the new education officer at The Ecology Centre in Kinghorn, firmly believes this is true and it is something she is out to prove in her new job.

From September, Claire (26), who lives in Kinghorn, will be out and about with the centre’s new mobile classroom, taking the mysteries of our local woodlands and ponds to local playgrounds.

The van, which will form the base for the project, is currently being fitted out with all the information boards, hands-on gadgets and working models which Claire hopes will inspire youngsters in the area to really take an interest in their environment, as well as learning more about renewable energy and how they can help to cut their carbon footprints.

As well as the van there will be a pop-up tent which will be designed to display the various animal habitats for the learning sessions.

Further afield

And it won’t just be Fife which will benefit from the £53,178 of funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery, as the Ecology Centre is hoping to take its mobile classroom further afield into Edinburgh and Dundee.

Claire, a former pupil of Balwearie High School, has only been in her new post a few weeks, but she is no stranger to the Ecology Centre, having worked there as a volunteer for several years.

“I have always been interested in the environment and environmental issues, so when I had to leave university because of illness and I came back to Kinghorn, I volunteered here and loved it,” she explained.

“I loved working with the young people here, using my creative skills on various art and education projects.”

One of the biggest, and most successful of these projects was ‘Wild Things in the Woods,’ an initiative Claire organised herself.

Wild Things was an exciting environmental physical theatre initiative in which a cast of young people worked for eight weeks to devise a performance exploring traditional fairy folklore and the history of the Ecology Centre, bringing the wild landscape to life through song, music and physical theatre.

“It was a great project and the kids really enjoyed doing it, so I am keen to do more things like that at the centre in the future,” added Claire.

“I also enjoyed working with children who have extra needs or challenging behaviour as it is great to see them getting something from the work you are doing with them, so that will be something I would also like to expand in my new role.”