Engineering Challenge

Your Challenge

Taking STEM Outdoors

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What to do

With the weather (hopefuly) going to improve over the next few weeks it's a great time to take some STEM learning outdoors. This month we're working with the RSPB to bring you some great resoures to use in school or at home.

This months challenge is to build a bug hotel for your school garden or a local greenspace.Safe hideaways can be hard for wildlife to find in some gardens, and what better use for all your garden waste and odds and ends? 

Build your bug hotel (also known as a wildlife hotel or stack) well and it could shelter anything from hedgehogs to toads, solitary bees to bumblebees, and ladybirds to woodlice.

Making a Bug Hotel is easy, just follow the steps below.

  1. Start by laying some bricks on the ground as sturdy corners. Leave some spaces in between the bricks – try creating an H-shape. Add three or four layers of wooden pallets on top of your bricks. If you leave larger ends, you’re more likely to attract hedgehogs.
  2. Using some of the resources suggested below fill the gaps. The idea is to provide all sorts of different nooks and crannies, crevices, tunnels and cosy beds.
  3. Lastly add a roof to your hotel. When you think you've gone high enough, making sure the stack remains stable, put a roof on to keep it relatively dry. Use old roof tiles or some old planks covered with roofing felt. You could even give it a 'green' or 'brown' roof by putting a bit of rubble or gritty soil on top. Only plants that love dry conditions cope up there, but some wild flower seeds could arrive on the breeze and take root. 



What you need (resources)

You can use a variety of materials to create your bug hotel but some that might come in handy are:

  • Straw
  • Moss
  • Dry leaves
  • Woodchips
  • Old terracotta pots
  • Old roofing tiles
  • Bricks, preferably those with holes through them
  • Old logs
  • Bark
  • Pine cones 
  • Sand
  • Soil

Career Focus

Becoming a Forest Ranger


Forest rangers protect and conserve wildlife in the forest. They also give information to visitors and lead guided walks. In the Forestry Commission they are called wildlife rangers.

You could be:

  • looking after habitats in the forest to protect existing birds and animals and encourage others to settle
  • identifying tree diseases and areas of damage caused by pests
  • controlling pests which might damage habitats
  • controlling numbers of animals, such as deer
  • working with the police to catch poachers or anyone disturbing or killing wildlife or stealing birds’ eggs
  • checking footpaths, gates, stiles or signposts for damage and arranging any repair work
  • assisting with environmental surveys, such as habitat monitoring or plant disease
  • raising awareness of conservation and the environment through events and activities.
  • Entry can be competitive and some forest rangers start as forest workers. Trainee posts are sometimes available. A good general education is useful, and it can also be helpful to have some subjects at National 4 or 5.
  • You could take a full time course leading to National Certificate (NC), Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND) before applying for a job. Entry requirements for NC vary from no formal qualifications to 5 subjects at National 4 or 5. For an HNC or HND it is usually 1-2 Highers or an NC.
  • Previous experience, usually as a forest worker, is necessary. You could do relevant voluntary work to get experience, for example with the Forestry Commission, the National Trust for Scotland or The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) Scotland.
  • For wildlife ranger posts a qualification in wildlife management or gamekeeping may be helpful.
  • You usually need a full, clean driving licence.
  • You should be fit as there is a lot of walking, usually over rough ground.
  • You must have PVG Scheme membership, to show that you are suitable for this type of work.

You would work for the Forestry Commission, a forestry company or private estate, a local authority, a government agency or a conservation organisation.

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