Biology, ecology and biomedical science at Brighton

University of Brighton biosciences blog

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Starting my adventure – weeks one and two

Training weeks at FSC Millport

Arriving to the island of Great Cumbrae by the ferry and a short bus journey, with tall sandstone cliffs covered with ferns to the left and a calm Scottish sea channel to the right of me, brought me to my home away from home for the next two weeks. And with that I arrived at FSC Millport, greeted by the smiling staff and shown to my sea view room.

With a weekend before the training started, we found ourselves strolling along quartz stippled pebble beaches, hiking up the rolling hills and swimming with the seals. After two days I had seen so many new (to me) flora and fauna species as well as some familiar favourites, including: Gannets, Curlews and Red Shanks, Lion’s mane jelly fish, bubbletip and snakes-lock anemones, Kelp (of various species), Common and yellow vetch, red campion, Selfheal as well as water mint, fucus species of seaweed and so many more.

First week

Monday brought the start of Outdoor first aid training, with training such as how to give CPR, use defibrillators and the mildly comedic bandaging of our ‘impaled’ eyes. But the tutors were brilliant and so enthusiastic to share their knowledge with us, answering countless questions with a smile and often a funny or scary anecdote.

The training continued Tuesday, which gave a good introduction for the National Water safety course that we started on Wednesday. Which started with understanding cold shock and the impact to the body, unknown to many, you have 1 hour before pneumonia sets in. Then we moved onto throw lines, throwing a line bag 10 meters is harder than it sounds, and ending the day in a pond on the top of the hill, practicing wade-in rescues!

Thursday and Friday we focused on details of what it takes to work at FSC, understanding our roles as teaching assistants and ensuring safe practice for ourselves and the students. Whilst understanding how to create an inspiring environment and the value of field work to a students learning. We looked at social media duties and how to engage with audiences. Cleaning and maintenance of microscopes and classrooms. We also focused on risk assessment and learnt how to do a dynamic risk assessment as well as site specific risk assessments and identifying hazards. We also undertook COSHH training, the 5 main hazards (ITCCH- irritant, toxic, corrosive, carcinogenic and harmful) and the procedure of exposure control.

And then it was the weekend again, which all HEP students packed full bike rides around the island, swimming, hiking, rock pooling and exploring the island or visiting the mainland (Largs) by ferry. It honestly is magical and felt as if we were on a tropical island.

Second week

The start of our final week began with an introduction to field work, which gave me an opportunity to learn something new and practice skills I developed at Brighton. We started with pond dipping, our favourite observations had to be the common newt and the greater water boats men. Then we moved onto a geography example, looking at pebble roundness using a cailluex roundness chart. And finally, we did some random sampling, comparing mowed and un-mowed lawns and the species richness. Each activity we discussed how we might extend it to further students learning and how to keep them engaged.

Tuesday we were able to learn about the skills and lessons we will be aiding in and some other tasks. Starting with I.T and first aid kit checks and classroom maintenance. We helped hospitality with turning down the rooms, learnt bush craft skills with Christina. And Stuart (part-time fire man) taught us fire safety and how to use a fire extinguisher, which was both interesting and admittedly fun! We also had the chance to be in charge of our own team games, practicing how to deliver and keep students engaged. Before, Jenny (one of the tutors) took us down to the rocky shore to I.D the organisms we found and understand how to teach animal welfare with students. It was amazing, we found so many species. Including brittle stars, common star fish, hermit crabs, edible crabs, porcelain and common shore crabs, edible and green-purple sea urchins as well as a rainbow of molluscs! And to round it off we undertook a nurdle survey and a beach litter pick!

Each evening the island and FSC offered chances for us HEP’s to explore and socialise, I went flower foraging to make herbal tea, watched the beautiful sunsets, hiking and practicing plant I.D, biking and swimming and of course practicing our card game/ pool skills! The has never been a dull moment! I am so grateful for the last two weeks and have learnt so much already and look forward to visiting FSC Millport and the island of Cumbrae again. There is plenty more to mention but hope this gave you an idea of the adventures we have been getting up to. The staff and my fellow HEP’s have been amazing and helped make this such a memorable experience. I am feeling prepared and excited to begin work at FSC Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire dales and cannot wait to learn more and get started with work!

Ella Scott • September 9, 2021


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