An internationally-acclaimed wildlife filmmaker has visited Aberdeen to launch a new era for one of the city's most popular education centres.
John Aitchison, who has worked on programmes for the BBC, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel including Frozen Planet, Life, Big Cat Diary and The Natural World, officially opened the University of Aberdeen’s new Aberdeen Biodiversity Centre.
Evolving from the institution’s Natural History Centre which has been involving primary school children and families with nature and science for over 18 years, the new Centre aims to engage and inspire schools and communities about the importance of the environment.
The main focus will be supporting teachers in the delivery of the Curriculum for Excellence for Scotland.
This will be achieved through a Continuing Professional Development Programme (CPD), developed and delivered by the Centre to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills to deliver science and environmental education.
An underlying theme of the Centre is to raise awareness of topical science and encourage environmental citizenship, whilst working with partners across the region.
Conveying the cutting-edge and pioneering research being conducting at the University within the field of biodiversity will also be a focus of the Centre. Academics will work alongside teachers to develop projects which can be taught in schools.
Representatives from academia, education and industry gathered for the launch event where John Aitchison gave a presentation entitled Wild lives and why they matter.
The event provided a chance to view the facility which is located in the University’s Zoology Building.
Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said: “The new Aberdeen Biodiversity Centre places the University of Aberdeen at the heart of supporting local teachers in the delivery of science and environmental education.
“The facility provides the opportunity for our resources and research to be used to help to educate and inspire young minds on crucial matters relating to biodiversity.”
Marie Fish, Manager of the Aberdeen Biodiversity Centre said: “Understanding the environment, the science and the value of biodiversity is the responsibility of all future citizens and not just those who follow a career in science.
“We aim to provide opportunities to share the exciting research carried by academics at the University and involve young adults in relevant and interesting ideas about their local environment. This will help both schools and communities value, understand and take ownership of the environment and encourage participation in environmental projects.”
The winner of a photography competition challenging University of Aberdeen staff to capture what biodiversity means to was also announced at the launch event for the new Centre.