Global Generation's Summer School

This year Global Generation's Summer School was a great success! As part of our "Bees for a Better World" project, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund Young Roots, the sessions were focused on bees and their plight, as a topic to get children and young people to think about values and our connection to the natural world. They did amazingly well at connecting to what their newly discovered characteristics were (as a bee) and some amazing writing followed, writes Rod Sugden and Jemma Chamberlain-Webber...

As ever, the Summer School for Regent High School students was a collective effort with lots of input from different people. This year, we really enjoyed co-leading it with our fantastic Better World Ambassadors and teacher trainees from the IOE. 

Brian McCallum and Alison Benjamin, our local bee specialists, visited on different mornings. Brian showed us all a cross-section of a bee hive; everyone was amazed to see the intricate and hyper activity that goes on inside. Brian, true to form, opened our eyes to the incredible facts, figures and lives of our precious little friends. Our activities also included a bee walk as part of the Honey Club Bee Trail through King’s Cross with Alison. We visited 4 sites and learnt to identify different types of bees at each location.

Global Generation's philosophy is based on what we call 'I, We and the Planet' and we applied this to our study of bees. We started by exploring “I” - our personal values on the green rooftop of a King’s Cross office building, a great way for us to open our minds to a new learning experience surrounded by wildflowers in the heart of London. For the “We” part of our ethos we went on to look at pollination and its connection to the food chain and the importance of bees in providing us with many of the foods in our diet. Finally to incorporate “Planet” - the children got their hands dirty making clay seed bombs with wildflower seeds to be thrown later on in the week. This ensured the children were aware of the importance of giving something back to the bees for all the hard work they do for us, in the form of luscious nectar from the flowers when they grow.

The children then had a chance to work directly with nature in a scientific context exploring: Who they are? What are bees? How are we similar? Through DNA extraction of strawberries, led by Dr Maria Ocampo-Hafalla from the Francis Crick Institute, they quickly learnt we are not so different at all to most of the natural things that surround us!

Midway through the Summer School we watched our 'Bees for a Better World' film and tried to fathom what qualities or characteristics a bee has. This included choosing from values such as 'ingenious', 'creative', 'hard- working', 'collaborative' and 'selfless.' Once we chose our values we were all asked to imagine that we were bees and to write freefall about our lives. All the children and young people did amazingly well at connecting to what their newly discovered characteristics were (as a bee) and writing in very sensitive and creative ways about their lives. Here are some examples of their writing...

When I woke up this morning, I tried to be both awake and still, in order to give myself the peace in my mind to bring the creativity and passion needed to motivate me on this new little adventure with a brand new group of children.
— Nurez
Flying high towards the sky , I think of what it was like for my ancestors - wait, why am I not seeing any flowers? All I see are black things. Humans kill flowers and create pollution, how dare they! We help them but all we get in return are broken plants and pollution. Wait I look to my right and I see many studying the way that we bees live and communicate. Maybe humans aren’t that bad!
— Assia
The only way I can help my team, my sisters, is to be courageous. Sacrifice comes in when needed. Slowly, I levitate and push my way through the empty holes of the hive. Following my sense of smell, I skim through the flowers trying to find a flower good enough for my sisters. There it was. The gold nectar and pollen beamed up at me like a beacon. I felt like I was going to go blind but none of that mattered at the moment. After doing a dance to show my location to my team family. I realised why my sisters always said perseverance is key.
— Khalid

On the last day of the Summer School it was time for the students' performances. This coincided nicely with the launch of the Bee App. The children and young people had planned to perform their writing to an audience of about 30-40 adults. This was a huge experience for many of them since most had not spoken to such a large number of adults before, but they all performed brilliantly and stole the show.

At the end of the experience, we were all left with a feeling of satisfaction and inspiration that the young people had all grown and developed. We wish to extend our gratitude to all of them for being such a well-mannered and interested group of children to work with, and we thank all the people who helped make it a great Summer School.