The Colchester Zoo Camera Trap Loan Scheme aims to encourage students to investigate and explore wildlife, to develop the skills used in conservation to monitor wildlife and to demonstrate a greater appreciation of local wildlife.
Through this project, schools are able to borrow camera traps to set up on school grounds and are provided with activity packs and an identification guide to support exploration of wildlife and interpretation of the camera footage. The main activity pack includes activities to explore their footage, create experiments using the camera traps and consider the conservation applications of this technology. Activities are designed to help students develop conservation skills and to highlight the potential careers available using camera traps, as well as helping students to connect with their local wildlife.
Student written science reports suggest that students are detailing what they had been observing and evidencing critical thinking with regards to this. Teachers identified the skills they believed students had been able to develop through the camera trap loan scheme and results of these show that the most common skill identified by teachers was teamwork, with observation second. Discussion, problem-solving and patience were also mentioned by a number of schools.
This project successfully connects students with British wildlife and has shown evidence of helping students to feel a greater appreciation of nature. This highlights the potential role of zoos in native species conservation, and the value of conservation education. However, it also provides students with valuable scientific skills, such as observation and problem-solving, which are valuable in conservation careers and a range of other opportunities. Additionally, this project has helped students to gain more personal skills, such as teamwork and patience. Therefore, it has also had a pastoral impact on the students taking part in the project.