New competition challenges 11-19 year olds to help save the UK’s bumblebees
November 18th 2019

New competition challenges 11-19 year olds to help save the UK’s bumblebees

School and college students across the UK are being challenged to generate new scientific discoveries that could be used to help protect the country’s struggling bumblebees, though a competition being run by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

As part of the conservation charity’s Big BeeWalk Data Research Competition – which runs from 5 November 2019 to 7 February 2020 – hundreds of thousands of bumblebee records gathered over the past decade are being made available to students for the first time.

Those taking part will have access to the records of almost 400,000 bumblebees, gathered since 2010 through the Trust’s BeeWalk national recording scheme. This citizen science survey – in which volunteers identify and count bumblebees they see while walking the same route monthly from March to October – builds a national picture of bumblebee health, and provides early warning of declines.

The vast set of BeeWalk data includes information on different bumblebee species and factors such as the weather, location, habitat type, and time of day of sightings – allowing a huge range of new and different research questions to be analysed, from how temperature affects bumblebee behaviour to how availability of specific plants can increase bumblebee numbers.

“By drawing on our unique BeeWalk data and using fresh thinking to design their own innovative research projects, students will be able to get involved in real-life science and develop skills desirable to universities – while potentially producing findings that could be used to boost practical conservation action to help bumblebees,” said Andy Benson, Education Officer at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

“It’s important because bumblebee populations have crashed in the UK over recent decades. We want students to think outside of the box and help shed new light on these remarkable insects whose hard work pollinates so many of our fruit and vegetables. The more we understand, the more we can do to reverse the plight of the bumblebee before it’s too late.”

The national curriculum-linked competition is also a chance for schools to apply some of the amazing science they have already been teaching their students in a real-life context. Students aged 11-19 across the UK can take part – working on their own or as part of a team, to analyse the data, create their own research project and then submit their research as a fully fledged academic paper.

There will be four prize categories – most innovative project, most rigorous methodology, best presentation and overall winner. Each school can make more than one entry, as long as each entry is by different students.

To enter and read more, visit Big BeeWalk Data Competition.

Each winner will receive a certificate and a copy of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s book ‘Bumblebees – An Introduction’, and their research will be published on the Trust’s website. The overall winner will have their work published in the 2019 BeeWalk annual report, and their school will win £250.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust also offers resources & activities for children aged 4-11.

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Selena Ledgerton Selena Ledgerton
Selena Ledgerton Web, Media & Marketing Manager e: [email protected]