HUNDREDS of schoolchildren are to take the plunge into science with the Wear Rivers Trust.
The organisation aims to conserve and improve the landscape and watercourses of the whole River Wear catchment.
It has won £25,000 from Northumbrian Water and Tyne and Wear Community Foundation’s Local Environmental Action Fund to continue its education programme.
Last year, more than 400 children took part in projects to learn more about preserving their local river.
The trust plans to use the new cash to let up to 900 more pupils take part over the next year.
Composed of three strands – the Riverfly Project, Mayfly Project and bespoke field trips – the programme supports many aspects of the national curriculum.
Education officer Lizzie Willows said: “This educational project really does have multiple benefits for the young people involved.
“It brings to life topics that they have to cover in school, like life cycles and biological adaptations, they develop scientific data collection skills in a fun and interactive way.
“It raises their awareness of how actions can impact on the local environment, and it increases a sense of responsibility, especially as they are giving something back by keeping an eye on the water quality for us.”
After successfully piloting the Riverfly Project last year, the trust is looking for new schools to join the scheme.
Each month pupils provide a report on the water quality at a local site.
Free training and equipment is given to teachers to help children take samples and identify the creatures they catch. The data is also sent to the Environment Agency.
Ten schools are already involved, and new teachers will be able to train in the spring.
The trust also works with schools that don’t have easy access to a river through its Mayfly in the Classroom Project.
The third strand of the programme is the provision of one-off river trips and visits, which can be tailor-made to help young people meet their geography and science targets. Schools which have taken part in this service over the last year include Chester-le-Street Juniors, Richard Avenue Primary, Hylton Red House Primary, Seaburn Dene Primary, Hetton Primary and Hetton Lyons Primary.
Any school wishing to participate in any of the schemes in 2013 should contact Lizzie Willows on 01388 488 867 or 07880 189 232, or visit www.wear-rivers-trust.org.uk.