Engineering nest replacements
Makybe Rise Primary School’s 3- to 4-year-olds led an in-depth engineering project that encompassed a thorough examination of nest materials, size, weight and shape of the eggs and extended the children’s prior knowledge on local wildlife.
The fallen nest: Child-led from the start
When a child brought in a nest they had found on the ground after a storm, the children discussed who the nest belonged to, why it had fallen out of the tree, what it was made from and what they could do with it. The group researched which animals have nests and the students linked their findings to their prior knowledge. The children were concerned about the eggs and baby birds that may have been disrupted by the nest falling out of the tree, and they wanted to build a replacement nest. They investigated the features of nests and developed a list of success criteria against which they were going to test their nests.
Nest engineering: Identifying materials
The children discussed as a group what they knew about nests and the materials birds used to build them and identified wood as the main material. After collecting different types of wood from the playground, they discovered that the weight and type of wood was very important.
Quail egg stand-in: Measuring
The children speculated what type of bird had built the fallen nest. They analysed the size of the nest and researched different sized eggs and which local birds lay eggs that would fit in the nest. When a child brought in quail eggs from the supermarket, the children decided to use them to test their nests.
The broken egg: Size, weight, strength and structure
Discussing the size of nest and eggs led to inquiries into weight of the eggs and strength of the nest. The children placed objects of different weights in the nest to test its strength. When an egg broke in the process, the children realised that the shape of the nest was important too and the sides needed to be high enough to keep the eggs safe.
Some children were concerned about the baby birds being cosy, which sent the children gathering and testing textures and materials for a comfortable nest interior.
The nest test: Reflecting on criteria
Once the children had discussed all their findings, they built their own nests with playdough and placed polystyrene eggs inside. As a group, they tested the nests and checked them against the success criteria they set in the beginning.
The project was a great success with the children from beginning to end because all children were interested and had an emotional connection – keeping eggs and baby birds safe – which kept them motivated throughout.