Image of beach with lifeguard equipment

The Original 63 Ideas

This collection will grow to 63 ideas to help you enrich your teaching with 11-14yr+ students. They will be added to every 2-3 days. Nine subjects are covered: Maths, English, Geography, History, Art, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Sports. Treat these as idea starters – you know your kids. Most ideas can be made more substantial (or less) depending on the time available and age of the class. If you’d like to comment, there’s a form below. For the avoidance of doubt, these ideas are my own personal ones and not representative of the view of any of the drowning prevention organisations in the UK.

1SportsWhat makes a sport appeal to the public?
Understanding why a sport appeals to the public is not only intellectually stimulating but also has practical applications in various fields. It promotes critical thinking, cultural awareness, and media literacy while providing insights into the broader impact of sports on society and the economy. It can be a valuable area of study for students with diverse interests and career aspirations.

Broaden the conversation, by asking why the students feel lifesaving sport doesn’t get as much attention as other sports. Get them to consider how they would go about increasing its visibility. (Added 01/09/23)
2PhysicsHow are beach profiles and tides related?
The relationship between beach profiles and tides is crucial for coastal management, as it helps predict how tides and other natural processes will impact shoreline erosion, sediment deposition, and the overall health of coastal ecosystems. Coastal engineers and environmental scientists often study these relationships to develop strategies for beach preservation, erosion control, and the protection of coastal communities.

Understanding the importance of beach profiles goes beyond the superficial level of describing them. It connects students to various fields of study, environmental stewardship, community well-being, and the broader context of environmental and coastal challenges. This knowledge equips students to make informed decisions about coastal management, environmental conservation, and their roles as responsible global citizens. (Added 02/09/23)
3ChemistryWhat is a colloid? What are its properties, and where on a beach would you find one?
Understanding colloids is relevant to chemistry but also to food production, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, environmental science, nanotechnology, digestion, cell biology, and the behavior of biomolecules in living organisms. Colloids can affect environmental processes, such as soil erosion, groundwater contamination, and wastewater treatment. Colloidal systems are relevant to addressing global challenges, such as water purification, drug delivery, and sustainable energy solutions.

While lifeguards may not need an in-depth understanding of colloids compared to scientists or engineers, a basic knowledge of colloidal systems can enhance their ability to perform their duties effectively, ensure the safety of beachgoers, and respond to emergencies in a variety of water conditions. Colloids form on beaches (eg quicksand) and around seaweed, hampering rescues. (Added 03/09/23)
4SportsIf you had to rescue as many people as possible in as short a time as possible, how would you choose?
Rescuers are trained to make quick but well-informed decisions in high-stress situations, always with the goal of saving as many lives as possible while minimizing risks to themselves and others.

Younger students might consider the factors (eg immediate danger, nature and severity of injuries, number of casualties, proximity to the rescuer, training they’ve had, the equipment to hand, and casualties who are somehow vulnerable or with special needs).

Would a team make better decisions than an individual?
Older individuals could explore the ethical issues involved in a complex rescue like this. (Added 04/09/23)
5SportsIf you were looking for sponsors of a lifesaving competition…
Understanding sports sponsorship provides pupils with a real-world application of marketing and business principles. It allows them to see how companies leverage sports events and athletes to promote their products or services. This opens up career opportunities in fields such as sports marketing, sports management, event management, and advertising. It can help improve their financial literacy, as they learn about contract negotiations, budgeting, and return on investment (ROI) analysis. This exposes students to ethical considerations, such as the potential for conflicts of interest, the impact of sponsorships on athlete performance and integrity, and the role of sponsorships in promoting unhealthy products. Sports sponsorship is a significant part of modern culture, and it shapes societal values and perceptions. Studying it can improve pupils’ media literacy skills, enabling them to critically assess the messages conveyed through sponsored content.

When seeking sponsorship for life-saving competitions, you should target organizations that have a vested interest in promoting water safety, lifeguarding skills, and public health. Examples might include: swimwear and water equipment brands, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, insurance companies, local businesses, municipal and government agencies, sportswear and apparel brands, beverage companies, fitness and wellness brands, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes. (Added 04/09/23)
6HistoryProduce a timeline of the evolution of life-jackets and buoyancy aids.
Lifejackets have evolved from basic buoyant devices to technologically advanced safety equipment designed for maximum buoyancy, comfort, and safety. These advancements have made lifejackets more effective and user-friendly, contributing to improved water safety around the world.

The history of lifejackets is interesting because it combines elements of innovation, survival, culture, regulation, human ingenuity, and historical context. It serves as a reminder of the progress made in ensuring safety on water, and it highlights the ongoing efforts to enhance life-saving equipment for the benefit of individuals in aquatic environments.

Incorporating the history of lifejackets and buoyancy aids into the curriculum can provide a multi-dimensional learning experience that encompasses safety, history, science, design, engineering, environmental awareness, ethics, and personal responsibility and values such as empathy and compassion, all of which contribute to a well-rounded education for students. (Added 05/09/23)
7PhysicsHow do fins help you swim faster?
Fins enhance your swimming efficiency and propulsion in several ways:
– Increased Surface Area compared to your bare feet allows you to push more water with each kick.
– Their streamlined shape channels water efficiently, minimizing water resistance.
– Your leg muscles work harder to move the extra weight and resistance, improving your leg strength and endurance.
– Their flexible, rubberized blade helps improve ankle flexibility, which allows a more effective and powerful kick, further increasing propulsion.
– Fins help swimmers refine their kicking technique – both motion and rhythm.
– They reduce the effort needed, allowing you to swim faster for longer without becoming tired.
– As a training aid, they help swimmers isolate specific muscle groups and work on specific aspects of their stroke.
Incorporating the study of fins into science, physical education, or extracurricular activities can make learning more engaging and relevant for pupils. It provides a real-world context for science and encourages interdisciplinary thinking. (Added 06/09/23)
8BiologyHow are the bodies of animals adapted to live on or in water?
These animals have evolved quite diverse adaptations, depending on whether the animal lives in freshwater or saltwater, and whether it spends most of its time in the water or on land. Here are some common examples:
Streamlined Bodies: reducing water resistance, allowing them to move efficiently through the water, and so conserve energy.
Gills: specialized respiratory organs that extract oxygen from water, enabling them to “breathe” underwater.
Buoyancy Control: swim bladders or other structures help them control their buoyancy, adjusting their position in the water column by inflating or deflating them.
Webbed Feet: function like paddles, helping them to move easily on the water’s surface.
Camouflage: colours and patterns blend into their surroundings protecting them from predators and helping them ambush prey.
Salt Glands: Sea turtles and certain birds, have salt glands to excrete excess salt, to maintain proper salt-to-water balance in their bodies.
Countercurrent Exchange: Some fish and sharks have these systems in their gills to maximize the efficiency of oxygen uptake by maintaining a concentration gradient across the gill filaments.
Lateral Lines: a series of sensitive organs along some fish bodies to detect vibrations and pressure changesenabling them to detect prey, avoid obstacles, and navigate.
Mucus Production: producing mucus on the skin reduces friction and protects against parasites and pathogens.
Specialized Limbs: seals and sea lions, evolved flippers for efficient swimming allowing graceful movement through the water. (Added 07/09/23)
9EnglishResearch films about lifeguards, lifesaving, water safety, drowning
Studying films about a particular topic can be an engaging and educational experience. Whether you’re exploring historical events, social issues, scientific concepts, or literary themes, films offer a unique way to enhance your understanding and learning. They can be more stimulating to some learners as they appeal to the visual and audio senses. This develops cultural understanding, historical context, critical thinking, empathy, complex problem solving, photographic and media techniques, story-telling, diversity, and practical skills.

PS At the date this was written, we discovered six films and two TV series. If you discover more PLEASE let us know. (Added 09/09/23)
10MathsDesign, conduct and interpret a survey to find out how much people know about water-safety and drowning prevention
Involving school pupils in designing, conducting, and interpreting public awareness surveys is not only educational but also empowering and socially responsible. It equips students with valuable skills, fosters civic engagement, and encourages a sense of social responsibility, all of which are essential for a well-rounded education and the development of informed and active citizens.
It teaches young people that they have a voice and can shape popular opinion. Hands-on Learning like this enhances their critical thinking, problem-solving, and data analysis skills. It helps students better understand the concerns and perspectives of their community, promoting empathy and a deeper appreciation for diverse viewpoints, and encourages them to delve into important social and political issues. In an increasingly data-driven world, being able to collect and interpret data is a vital skill.
Of course, asking questions about water safety is also a great way to bring such messages to a wider audience. (Added 10/09/23)
11SportsWhich muscles are most important to a lifesaver?
There isn’t a specific muscle group that is the most important, however certain muscles play a crucial role.
Core Muscles: maintain a streamlined position while swimming and make it easier to perform rescue techniques efficiently.
Shoulder Muscles: enable you to swim quickly and with precision.
Chest and Upper Back: play a role in maintaining proper posture, and endurance during long periods of treading water.
Leg Muscles: a strong kick is crucial for speed and stability in the water.
Cardiovascular Endurance: strong lungs and heart enable you to swim long distances, respond quickly, and maintain energy levels.
Forearm and Grip Strength: crucial for holding rescue equipment and securely grasping distressed swimmers if necessary.
Neck Muscles: help you keep your head above water and maintain a clear view while swimming or treading water.

Incorporating biomechanics into sports education can be especially valuable for pupils who are passionate about their chosen sport. It empowers them to take a more analytical and scientific approach to their training and competition, fostering a deeper understanding and connection to the activity they love. However, even for ones who are not so involved, appreciating how athletes gain advantage, and why some are going to out-perform others, builds an appreciation of depth of study, wider knowledge, critical analysis, and other transferrable skills. (Added 11/09/23)
12ChemistryWhich chemistry tests are performed to determine whether water is safe to swim in?
Studying applications of chemistry in industry enriches students’ education, reveals the practicality of their studies, fosters critical thinking, and highlights the role of chemistry in shaping our modern world. It prepares students for future careers and equips them with the scientific literacy needed to navigate a chemical-intensive society responsibly.

Ensuring the safety of water for swimming involves conducting various chemistry tests to assess the water quality. These tests help identify potential contaminants and ensure that the water meets established safety standards. Typical tests include:
pH Level: crucial to prevent skin and eye irritation and to ensure the effectiveness of disinfectants like chlorine.
Chlorine or Bromine Levels: ensures that they are within the recommended range for effective disinfection and to prevent waterborne illnesses.
Total Alkalinity (TA): measures the water’s ability to resist changes in pH.
Calcium Hardness: prevents issues like corrosion or scaling.
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS): indicates the presence of contaminants or excessive chemical buildup.
Cyanuric Acid (CYA) Levels: a stabilizer that helps chlorine remain effective in outdoor pools. Excessive CYA levels can reduce chlorine’s effectiveness.
Metals Testing: Testing for iron and copper avoids staining and discoloration of pool surfaces.
Microbiological Testing: While not a chemistry test, microbiological testing detects harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs): formed when chlorine or bromine react with organic matter in the water. Monitoring ensures that disinfection is effective.
Phosphate Levels: High phosphate contributes to algal growth. (Added 12/09/23)
13GeographyWhat are the costs to society of one person drowning?
School pupils need to understand the costs to society of one person drowning for several compelling reasons, particularly from a left-of-centre perspective that emphasizes social welfare, empathy, community well-being, inclusivity, solidarity, social justice, and helping those in need. The critical thinking this prompts can lead to discussions about broader societal issues and potential policy solutions, and addressing systemic problems. Public health is a fundamental aspect of a just society. Such discussions:
o Promote Empathy and Social Responsibility
o Encourage Advocacy for Safety Measures
o Foster Critical Thinking
o Support Public Health Education
o Prepare Future Decision-Makers
o Empower Communities
o Reduce Stigma and Foster Inclusivity

Among the costs your class might identify are:
Human Life and Wellbeing – The emotional and psychological toll on the victim’s family and friends is immeasurable, potentially leading to long-term grief, mental health issues, and reduced quality of life.
Economic Costs – Drowning incidents have economic implications for society. The immediate costs include emergency response services, medical care, and potential legal processes. Long-term costs may involve rehabilitation, disability support, and ongoing healthcare for survivors with injuries or trauma. Moreover, if the individual was a breadwinner, their family may experience financial hardships, potentially leading to increased reliance on social safety nets.
Impact on Communities – Drowning incidents can adversely affect communities, leading to fear and anxiety among residents, especially in areas where water-related activities are common. Communities may demand increased safety measures, such as lifeguards, improved infrastructure, or stricter regulations, all of which have associated costs that society must bear.
Productivity Loss – If the victim was in the workforce, their death or injury results in a productivity loss to society. This can impact economic output and tax revenues, potentially necessitating public spending to make up for the loss, such as unemployment benefits or retraining programs for affected families.
Preventive Costs – To reduce drowning incidents, society may need to invest in education programs, swimming lessons, public awareness campaigns, and improved access to safe recreational areas. These investments, while essential, come with their own costs, but they are seen as a long-term societal benefit.
Healthcare Costs – Survivors of drowning often require extensive medical care and rehabilitation. Left-leaning perspectives typically advocate for accessible and affordable healthcare, which means society may be expected to cover a significant portion of these costs, either through public healthcare programs or insurance premiums.
Environmental Impact – Depending on where the drowning occurs, there may even be environmental costs associated with search and rescue efforts, pollution from emergency vehicles, and the potential impact on local ecosystems. (Added: 13/09/23)
14ArtDesign a board/video game that teaches water safety
This project can be a fun and engaging way to promote water safety education while developing valuable life skills. It embraces:
Hands-On Learning
Interdisciplinary Skills
Understanding of Water Safety
Communication Skills
Teamwork and Collaboration
Problem Solving
Digital Literacy
Creativity and Imagination
Empathy and User-Centered Design
Teaching and Sharing Knowledge
Awareness and Advocacy
Sense of Achievement
(Added 14/09/23)
15ChemistryWhat is the composition of normal air and expired air?
Understanding the composition of normal air and expired air is not only essential for scientific literacy but also for gaining insights into human biology, health, and the environment. It provides a foundation for further exploration of topics related to respiration, environmental science, and human physiology.

Expired air resuscitation works because (a) there’s sufficient Oxygen to still be of use to the casualty, and (2) elevated CO2 stimulates breathing, through a mechanism known as the “respiratory” or “hypercapnic” drive.

The primary difference between expired and atmospheric air is the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide that occurs during respiration. When you inhale atmospheric air, your body extracts oxygen for cellular respiration while releasing carbon dioxide as a waste product. As a result, the oxygen concentration decreases, and the carbon dioxide concentration increases in expired air.

Atmospheric Air:
Oxygen (O2): Approximately 20.95%
Nitrogen (N2): Approximately 78.09%
Trace Gases (including argon, neon, helium, krypton, xenon, and others): Approximately 0.96%
Carbon Dioxide (CO2): About 0.04%
Water Vapour (variable, depending on humidity): Typically ranges from 0% to 4% or more
Expired Air:
Oxygen (O2): Decreased from the inhaled concentration, typically around 16-17% (due to oxygen uptake by the body)
Carbon Dioxide (CO2): Elevated compared to atmospheric air, typically around 4-5% (due to the release of CO2 produced by cellular respiration)
Nitrogen (N2): Similar to atmospheric air, around 78-79%
Trace Gases: Similar to atmospheric air, around 0.96%
Water Vapour: Increased compared to inhaled air due to moisture added during respiration
(Added: 17/09/23)
16GeographyProduce a map of Britain’s blue flag beaches
Creating a map of Britain’s blue flag beaches not only enhances geographical knowledge but also promotes critical thinking, research skills, and an appreciation for the diverse landscapes and human-environment interactions in coastal regions. It connects classroom learning to real-world geography, making the subject more engaging and relevant for students.

For lifesavers, it provides insights into the geography, risks, and safety considerations specific to coastal areas. It fosters a deeper understanding of beach dynamics and helps students develop critical skills needed for effective lifeguarding and water safety management.

It’s particularly valuable because it enhances:
Geographical Awareness
Spatial Awareness
Topography and Physical Geography
Environmental Geography
Human Geography
Cultural Geography
Data Analysis
Comparative Analysis
Tourism Studies
Interdisciplinary Learning
Environmental Stewardship
(Added 18/09/23)
17GeographyWhy are some seaside towns affected by sewage in the water?
Some seaside towns in the UK are affected by sewage in the water due to a combination of historical practices (‘Combined Sewage Systems’ and ‘Combined Sewage Overflows’), inadequate and aging infrastructure, seasonal population increases, urbanization, and environmental factors.

Efforts to address sewage pollution in UK seaside towns typically involve upgrading sewage treatment infrastructure, separating stormwater from sewage, improving maintenance practices, and implementing stricter environmental regulations.

Studying how these areas become polluted promotes public health awareness, environment awareness, social justice, scientific literacy, and future stewardship.

Overall, lifeguards and lifesavers play a vital role in safeguarding public health and promoting safe recreational activities at the beach. Their knowledge and awareness of sewage-related issues are crucial for maintaining the well-being of beach visitors and preserving the natural beauty of coastal environments. (Added 19/09/23)
18GeographyDraw a map to show local lakes, rivers and canals
Incorporating map-making into the curriculum not only enhances geographical knowledge but also promotes a range of skills and attitudes that can benefit students in their academic and personal lives. It encourages exploration, curiosity, and a deeper connection to their local community and the broader world;

Geographical Knowledge
Spatial Awareness
Navigation Skills
Environmental Awareness
Interdisciplinary Learning
Community Connection
Historical and Cultural Context
Improved Observation Skills
Communication Skills
Technology Integration
Fieldwork and Outdoor Learning
Aesthetic and Artistic Expression
Sense of Accomplishment
Global Perspective
(Added 23/09/23)

Graham Wilson
I’ve been teaching lifesaving for nearly 50 years, but only became a teacher in Further Education, and tutor in Higher Education, 10 years ago. For some time, I was Chair of Surrey Branch of the Royal Life Saving Society, and am a National Trainer Assessor in Life Saving with them.
I am was fairly active on the RLSS Membership Facebook Forum1, where I try to post items that will be of interest mainly for TAs to incorporate into discussions within their classes.
Over the last few years, I have been involved in a range of outreach activities and local Water Safety Forums. It has been this last activity that inspired me to want to create this resource.
Thank you.

1 Until two individuals complained that I was posting too much in the run-up to the Deputy President elections in October 2023.






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