A WEARSIDE visitor attraction is taking part in pioneering research into how youngsters benefit from wildlife trips.
Washington Wetland Centre is investigating the long-term effects of visits on primary school children.
The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, which runs the centre, will catch up with children and teachers once they return to the classroom, with follow-up discussions and activities drawing out subtle changes over time.
Researchers will compare the approaches taken by different schools on similar visits, which will reveal, for example, whether children are more inspired by things they are shown or those that they find for themselves.
WWT learning manager Lucy Hellier said surveys will be carried out at Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centres across the country.
“This is a pioneering piece of research that could have implications for all school trips to the great outdoors,” she said.
“Over the years, we’ve welcomed more than two million school kids to our centres.
“We see them enjoying themselves and we dream that we’ve inspired each one. Other studies have asked adults why they became interested in nature.
“We’re coming at it from a different angle and speaking to children directly, to narrow down what it was about a single school trip that could turn it into a life-changing event.
“As far as we know, no one has ever tried that before.”