Students from Wicor Primary School visited the Land Rover BAR team base for a fun-filled day of practical learning delivered by the 1851 Trust, Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) and the University of Portsmouth’s Institute for Marine Sciences (IMS).
The day consisted of two parts. Students were able to explore the Tech Deck, learning about the science, technology and sustainability behind the British challenge for the America’s Cup, with an in-depth session on the specific problem of invasive species. The session focused on lionfish in the Western Atlantic and the slipper limpet (and its effect on our native oysters!) in our home waters of the Solent. The students looked at the different adaptations of the species that cause them to thrive in alien environments and will used their critical thinking skills to form their own solutions to the problem.
The second part was a hands-on session run by BLUE where the young people assisted PhD students from IMS in their monthly monitoring exercise, and were able to apply their learnings from the STEM lesson. Students helped BLUE and IMS scientists to measure and record oyster mortality, as well as identify a huge number of cohabiting species, demonstrating just how much life is supported by oyster communities.
Ellie Collins aged 10 commented “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.”
Marine ecology is of huge importance to us, as an environmentally conscious sailing team who care about their ‘pitch’, and the initial opportunity to host the pilot site for the native oyster restoration project was one not to be missed. Even more exciting now, to be able to share and monitor the native oyster progress and biodiversity with young local students, who are already huge experts in terrestrial ecology!
As a WWF and RHS Champion School, who have created some fabulous allotments, beehives, bug hotels, chicken coops and diverse habitats, we hope that in return we can learn about the best herbs and veggies to plant in our rooftop garden this Autumn and look forward to seeing Wicor Primary School again soon!