Scientists for a day

Scientists for a day!

70 pupils from Wicor Primary School joined the 1851 Trust and Blue Marine Foundation, becoming Environmental Scientists for the day, as they learned about sustainability in the Solent, an environment right on their doorstep.

The pupils joined researchers from the University of Portsmouth to help check the progress of the oysters growing on the Land Rover BAR pontoon, as part of the Solent Oyster Restoration Project.

Invasive species workshopThe day started with a workshop about Invasive Species at the TECH DECK and Education Centre, led by the 1851 Trust’s Education Manager, learning about the importance of biodiversity and the dangers of an imbalance caused by a non-native species.

Abigail Woodhouse a pupil at Wicor primary commented “We learned about Lionfish in Bermuda. About how they are an invasive species and that this means they affect the other fish around them.”

Freya Clarke, aged 10 agreed, “I liked the part on the ipads when we learned about invasive species. I’ve never heard of this before.”

The original Solent oyster population used to support hundreds of fisherman and a thriving eco-system. However, one of the factors leading to their sudden decline in the 1980s is cited as the arrival of the slipper limpet, an invasive species which arrived in the Solent in the bilge-water of container ships.

Oysters can filter up to 200 litres per day, helping to keep our Solent water clean. A partnership between Land Rover BAR, BLUE and MDL aims to substantially increase the Solent oyster population by 2020.

The children then watched as the oyster cages were lifted from the water by the University Researchers, and in teams they identified all the other sea-creatures that fell off the oyster cages, demonstrating the biodiversity that results from a healthy oyster population.

Ellie Collins aged 10 describes it, “My favourite bit was handling the sea animals, seeing if they are boys or girls and being squirted by the sea-squirts! The best animal my group found today was a Bristleworm. I learned about invasive species, and this means they kill off other animals because they aren’t meant to be there. It was a brilliant day, it makes me want to be a scientist!”

Teacher Alison Nash added, “It has been a fabulous day. We’re using today to kickstart our module on sustainable food and plastic oceans.  I think we’ll do more on invasive species as well, we weren’t expecting to carry on with that theme, but there was so much conversation about it that we’ll take that learning from the children’s questions and interest.   Plastic Ocean is a theme we’ll continue over the next few years; if you’re going to change the world you have to start with the children.”

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The Official Charity of Land Rover BAR, the team to bring the America’s Cup home to Britain