Mayfly in the Classroom

The WCSRT is piloting the 'Mayfly in the Classroom' programme in the Test & Itchen catchment in spring 2018. Four primary schools are currently signed up to take part. 

Linked to the national curriculum, the 'Mayfly in the Classroom' programme is an educational project created by the Wild Trout Trust to enable students to learn about aquatic and terrestrial habitats through the study of aquatic invertebrates. The project involves practically studying mayflies in the classroom to learn about their life cycles and how they fit into the wider ecosystem. The aim of the project is to connect school children to their local river habitats. 

If you would like to know more about the ‘Mayfly in the Classroom’ programme or would like to get your school involved please contact Vee Moore at

The Story of Chalk Streams

The chalk stream classroom is WCSRT's unique education programme that introduces school children to chalk streams, their past and present and the life that abounds in them. The lessons can be held indoors or outdoors and are closely linked to the primary national curriculum (Key Stage 2 Science, Geography, Mathematics and other subjects such as History and Art and design).

Here's an example of an indoor chalk stream classroom format (the format can be adapted to best suit the requirements of each school):

1. The lesson opens with the study of chalk, the white porous limestone that helps to keep the water in our chalk streams clean and cool. Small rocks of chalk are handed out for observation and children discover (via enquiry) when and how this rock was formed and its special qualities.

2. The lesson then moves onto chalk streams, which appeared during the last Ice Age when gushing flows of melting ice carved these rivers into the landscape. Children hypothesize about the various events that would have occured 10,000 years ago and how these would have influenced the conditions and wildlife found in our chalk streams today. 

3. A sample of invertebrates and small fish is collected from a local chalk stream (by WCSRT's Education Officer) and brought into the classroom for inspection and analysis. Children learn about the many different insects that have developed unique structures and functions that enable them to live in water.

4. The lesson closes with a drawing activity of an invertebrate or fish found in the sample, which enables children to study the chosen invertebrate/fish in more detail. 

Children drawing invertebrates           Class drawing invertebrates towards the end of the lesson

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 school term, 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, circa 700 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.


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You can help your local river by making a donation to support the work of the Wessex Chalk Stream & Rivers Trust.

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