Community Champion: Stuart McGrath

Stuart McGrath
Glasgow, Scotland

How are you using OPAL to make a difference in the community?

As part of my role as Development Officer for Citizen Science at Education Scotland, I have been promoting the use of citizen science activities and surveys such as the OPAL surveys in schools across Scotland. We are committed to increasing teacher confidence around the teaching of science and developing scientific literacy and data handling skills.

How did you first discover/get involved with OPAL?

Education Scotland had already been in contact with OPAL when I started. I have worked closely with the OPAL Community Scientists in Scotland to deliver professional learning sessions for teachers and produce new resources.

What do you enjoy most about using OPAL resources / What has been your favourite moment while using them?

I really enjoy sharing the surveys with teachers and hearing from them that they have increased their confidence in teaching science.

I used the Air Quality survey with a group of primary 6 children at my own school in Stirling. The discussions, higher order thinking and level of questions generated by the young people and their passion as well as engagement when they realised they had the power to make a difference was infectious.

Which is your favourite OPAL survey and why?

The Air Quality survey is a great resource for exploring many aspects of science, literacy and numeracy skills, and links well with many experiences and outcomes from Curriculum for Excellence.

Where is your favourite place to enjoy nature and why?

I have always enjoyed exploring the grounds around my own school. We are fortunate enough to have views of the Ochil Hills and sit on the bank of the River Forth. We've developed our grounds and created different habitat areas. I really enjoy working with the young people there, listening to them and watching them explore and make discoveries about nature right on their doorstep.

What is the most interesting/unusual/beautiful plant or animal you’ve ever seen?

It might not be very unusual, but whilst filming the video resources with OPAL at Kindrogan, I saw a red squirrel for the first time! Despite coming from the Isle of Wight which is famed for its red squirrel population, I'd never actually seen one.

What advice would you give to people who want to encourage their communities to get involved in science and nature?

We need to create a generation of young people passionate and engaged with science and the natural world. Our economy and the future of our environment depends on it. Start young and encourage children to be outside asking questions as much as possible.

About OPAL Community Champions

The OPAL Community Champions scheme aims to acknowledge the contribution made by individuals to the OPAL network, to thank people for their efforts, and to act as an inspiration for others.

Over the next few weeks and months we'll be profiling our Community Champions who are nominated by OPAL's team of Community Scientists from across the UK.