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Axis network cameras enable Herries School pupils to get closer to stag beetles

Published on 2 October, 2006

Herries Preparatory School in Cookham Dean, Berkshire has utilised an AXIS 214 PTZ Network Camera from the global leader in network video, Axis Communications, to help its pupils further develop their renowned studies on the habitat of the stag beetle.

Herries School teaches around a hundred children up to the age of 11.  In 2002, their science co-ordinator Anne Sweeney was looking for ways to bring to life the teaching of conservation for her Year Four pupils (aged 8-9).  Rather than study-endangered species from Africa or Asia, inspiration came from closer to home when a pupil brought in a stag beetle from the playing fields.

The once-common stag beetle has recently been declared endangered and is a protected species across Europe.  Measuring up to eight centimetres long, their name derives from their distinctive mandibles, which look similar to a stag's antlers.  Herries School teamed up with the prestigious Royal Society who supported their initial stag beetle habitat research in 2002, with pupils investigating stag beetles preference for different wood types.  A year later a new project investigated whether the presence of log fungi was more attractive to mating female stag beetles than type of wood.  This project involved pupils taking daily temperature, light, sound and humidity readings from two specially constructed log piles. 

Over the years, the stag beetle research has become an integral part of science study at the school.  The latest development is the introduction of a high performance AXIS 214 PTZ network camera and Milestone XProtect software funded by sponsors and digital surveillance integrator InCam and Communications Development Company, Jordan.  The dome encased, tripod-mounted camera sends live images from the stag beetles' wood piles across the school's network to be shared on PCs or classroom whiteboards.  Images are also viewed by other schools across the Internet.  The AXIS 214 PTZ allows the pupils to remotely control the movement of the lens, and to zoom closely to examine the beetles - sensitive even in low light to watch nocturnal activity. 

Milestone software helps to quickly sift through the beetle footage.  Pupils can also use it to edit and send key clips on CD or paste them to the ‘Beetle Blog' at

Paul Stout, managing director, InCam explained:

"We're delighted to support a school that is so innovative and focused on ecological issues.  Our solution has delivered high quality images, which Herries and other schools can use as an integral part of their conservation studies.  It is also very sturdy, rugged and flexible so the school can easily move and adjust the camera to focus on new areas.  There is also the possibility of running the camera using a battery, so it could be solar or wind powered to make it truly green."

Anne Sweeney, science co-ordinator at Herries School added:

 "The pupils have really been inspired - we spent 10 days totally focused on the project, using it as a base for cross-curricular work in English, Maths, Science, Art and Design Technology.  They have put together a class project, which I am submitting for an education competition.  The quality of the work was very high and the network camera provided both a motivational stimulus and a lot of information"

Steve Gorski, managing director of Axis Communications UK Ltd, commented:

"We are always encouraged to see our network cameras being used in new and interesting ways.  For the pupils to be able to control the camera in their classroom and zoom in right up close to the beetles brings their subject to life."

The AXIS 214 PTZ Network Camera is designed for professional security surveillance and remote monitoring applications.  It delivers high quality, full frame rate Motion JPEG video with the capability to remotely control pan, tilt and zoom functions over an IP network such as a Local Area Network or the internet.  It also supports simultaneous transmission of video in MPEG-4 mode.

The AXIS 214 PTZ incorporates automatic day/night functionality, providing light-sensitive black and white video images in conditions as low as 0.005 lux.  When installed with Axis Dome Housing, the AXIS 214 PTZ is an ideal day and night camera for outdoor use.  The Axis outdoor housing, which has an IP-66-rated protection against dust and heavy rain, has been customised for use in this application.

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