Plymouth pupils interview Dartmoor Zoo owner Ben Mee for national education project
STUDENTS have interviewed Dartmoor Zoological Park owner Ben Mee as part of a major UK-wide educational project.
A press pack of 30 Year 7 students from Stoke Damerel Community College quizzed Mr Mee, whose story inspired the Hollywood movie We Bought a Zoo.
The pupils completed a journalism masterclass at the zoo to help them learn about different media techniques.
As well as interviewing Ben and his children, the students also had the opportunity to talk to staff at the zoo and enjoy a guided tour to see all the animals close up.
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English teacher Nikki Radford said the experience – part of the BBC's New School Report project – helped the students to understand the process of how the media works and how they put an interview and story together.
"The students had tremendous fun," Nikki said. "They have put a tremendous amount of effort into the preparation and have been looking at topics including zoos as a conservation tool, what Ben is trying to achieve at Dartmoor Zoological Park and also whether a zoo can be a viable business.
"The day was a great reward for all their hard work and it is fantastic that they can experience journalism in this way, not only from a career perspective, but in the way it will also help them develop an inquiring mind, and give them confidence," she added.
The students filmed the interviews as they quizzed Mr Mee and his children on what their life is like at the zoo.
They also talked to staff about how they keep animals mentally stimulated in a zoo environment.
Back at school, the students completed their interviews to a deadline and edited the films before the finished news packages were uploaded to a special web page.
The BBC School news Report gives students aged between 11 and 16 the chance to develop their journalistic skills by making their own news reports for a real audience.