Education


Winchester College Primary Schools Project

In 2015, the WCSRT began collaborating with Winchester College and local primary schools on an environmental education programme to introduce pupils to the River Itchen and help teach them about the their local chalk river systems and all the wonderful wildlife these rivers support.

Each year, over 100 pupils benefit from the programme, which includes a preliminary lecture by the Winchester College teaching staff, followed by both laboratory and field visits to the River Itchen in the College grounds to collect and identify small fish and invertebrates from the river and introduce the youngster to the basic concepts of river hydrology. To date, more than 600 pupils have participated in this learning opportunity.

The enthusiasm and interest shown by the children is boundless and often this has to be sustained during cold and wet early springtime or autumn weather. Highlights from the visits included the temporary capture and inspection of sticklebacks, minnows, bullheads, stone loach, mayfly and damsel fly nymphs, shrimps, snails, leeches and caddis larvae: much to inspire young minds! We are often fortunate to have the help of TV wildlife presenter, Nick Baker who is the Fellow of Natural History at the College.

The programme is supported by the Fishmongers’ Company.

Trout in the Classroom

The Trout in the Classroom project is an education programme run by the WCSRT to introduce children to the growth and development of brown trout in a classroom setting.

Primary schools in particular have become deeply involved with the use of the system as a teaching resource. The links with the KS1-3 curriculum are numerous, and not only within the science area of study. Secondary schools have used the system as part of Environmental Science, Rural Science and Biology coursework.

The equipment is simple and straightforward to operate. It comprises a water cooler, pump, filters, tanks and aerators and can successfully raise up to four hundred small trout from eggs to fry.

Trout eggs are delivered to the school in December (or alternatively in February) and are placed in a temperature-controlled aquarium. They generally take a couple of weeks to hatch. The tiny fish, called alevins, then take a few more weeks to use up their egg sacs and turn into fry, when they will need to be coaxed into feeding on the specialist food provided. The tanks need regular monitoring and maintenance, but may be left safely over a weekend.

The pupils take part in a 'release day' just before the Easter break. Following the release of the trout fry, the system can then be converted into a mini river environment and stocked with weed, invertebrates and small fish and continues to be a classroom resource well into the summer term. All trout releases into a local river or stream are approved by the Environment Agency. 

Schools interested in either of the above programmes should contact Vee Moore, Education Officer by email: education@wcsrt.org.uk.

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