National Sea Life Centre Birmingham and Legoland Discovery…
October and just a month into the new school year, Mr Place and Miss Darrall of Year 4 made the brave decision to take their newly acquired class groups out of the classroom for Moat Hall Primary School’s first offsite educational experience of the 2019-20 school calendar.
In class, as part of their morning English work and afternoon Topic, Year 4 while reading ‘Oliver and the Seawigs’ had been learning all about the Blue Abyss, looking in detail at the many oceans and seas of our world and the different depths / zones that they are made up of. Children learnt about Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the significant pollution problems that it and its abundance of marine life continues to battle with, focussing in particular on food chains and the devastating impact that wrongly discarded plastics are having on sea creatures within their underwater habitats. With this newly acquired subject knowledge pupils were going to be expected to produce a non-chronological report about a sea creature of their choosing as a piece of extended writing for English.
What better way to learn about the creatures that inhabit and hide within the murky depths of Earth’s many oceans than to go and see some of that sea life for themselves at Birmingham’s largest aquarium the National Sea Life Centre!
On arrival, the visit started on a high note as the children came face to face with what is arguably the cutest flightless bird to walk the earth, the Penguin! In a highly realistic recreation of their natural arctic habitat over 30 penguins waddled along in small groups helping themselves to ‘fishy’ breakfast snacks while others demonstrated their highly adept swimming skills to children’s bemusement. One or two penguins also took the opportunity to steal the limelight off of a few lucky students as they swam into view as children posed for some memorable group photos.
Reluctantly moving on, the children made their way through the building observing a variety of different fish and some more obscure sea creatures both little and large along the way. Pupils, already ‘buzzing’ with excitement were intrigued to see some of the stranger and lesser known creatures that inhabit the depths of the world’s oceans but were clearly thrilled to see some of the more familiar species being the Clownfish and Pacific Blue Tang both of which were made famous by Disney Pixar’s Finding Nemo.
During the morning, a few courageous children made the most of the rare opportunities offered to them with this experience to get up close and personal with some of the Sea Life Centres more exotic ocean life. Some took the chance to hold and gently touch a brightly coloured starfish while others clambered inside a tight glass tunnel to fully immerse themselves within a tank full of flesh eating Piranha. As children made their way further through the tour they were given the chance to carry out an experiment with some of the Sea Life Centres larger marine life. After a quick science lesson, pupils had discovered that many fish can detect and are attracted to ‘static electricity’ something that could easily be created by themselves then and there by rubbing their hands together. Pupils stood around a large tank and after some ferocious hand rubbing held them over the water’s surface, some closer than others and waited anxiously to see the results of their efforts. It didn’t take long before the experiment was proven to be successful with a number of fish including the infamous Stingray making their way to the edges of the tank and breaching the surface for a cheeky nibble on those tasty Year 4 fingers.
As the tour drew to a close, children made their way down the stairs and deeper into the abyss, toward what can only be described as the ‘pièce de résistance’ of the whole experience. Saving the best until last and hidden deep inside the building’s basement was the biggest tank of them all that had a large glass walkway running straight through its core. Children stood in awe in the middle of the glass tunnel displaying looks of utter amazement as they came face to face with some of the world’s most dangerous and iconic marine life. Swimming directly above their heads and almost within touching distance were a number of large predatory sharks with their sharp teeth clearly on display, long slithery eels that squirmed through the water and some humongous turtles that lay motionless amongst many other lesser known aquatic creatures.
Before leaving the Sea Life Centre for their next treat of the day at Legoland Discovery Centre a few of the children took the chance to peruse the shop and bought themselves some nice little keep sakes to take back to school with them as a memento of their enjoyable underwater experience.
With all of the educational aspects of the day’s visit done and dusted, the afternoon was about nothing more than pure fun and allowing children to be children, with their teachers in tow of course, outside of a school environment.
Inside Legoland, children built away until their hearts were content with bathtubs containing thousands bricks at their disposal while also taking time out to observe expert ‘Master Builders’ at work who were busy creating complex Lego models that would later be added to their amazing Lego city of Birmingham. Once the thrill of the lights and sights of the city had all but been discovered the final hour of the day was spent enjoying some of Legoland’s indoor thrill rides before drawing the visit to a climactic end watching the latest Lego movie inside of their fully immersive 4D cinema.
Both children and staff alike had a fantastic day together in Birmingham and we are now looking forward to seeing what fantastic non-chronological reports our brilliant Year 4 writers can create for us about their new favourite sea creatures!
Until then, enjoy some of the highlights taken from our visit and if you are interested in going along yourselves I have included direct links to both the Sea Life Centre Birmingham and Legoland Discovery Centre websites where you will be able to find out further information.
Come back soon to hear all about Year 2’s time travelling adventure to the historic city of Warwick and its medieval castle…
Mr Johnson J