School eco sleuths trawl for clues after fish deaths

Learning for Sustainability Eco Schools Conferences
Pupils from Finstall First School, Bromsgrove, investigating the invasive species brought in on a fisherman's kit
Published Monday, 13th July 2015

More than 100 Worcestershire children became environmental detectives for a day during a series of conferences organised by the County Council focusing on causes and prevention of pollution.

The Learning for Sustainability Eco Schools Conferences were held between June 30 and July 2 at the Bishops Wood Centre in Stourport and were attended by young people from a dozen schools. The first two days were aimed at pupils from first and middle schools while the third day was tailored for high school students.

The theme centred on being an environmental detective. Pupils were presented with a mocked-up 'crime' involving the discovery of dead fish in a lake and had to follow clues to work out what had happened.

Realistic scenarios included a farmer spreading too much pesticide, a fisherman bringing a non-native, invasive species into the lake, and a recent episode of fly tipping which resulted in chemicals entering the water.

The detective work involved listening to recorded interviews or questioning people representing local fishermen and businesses, which gave pupils a greater understanding of the environmental and community impact.

Pupils also planned a poster campaign aimed at preventing different types of pollution. They were also given the opportunity to discuss eco schools activities which have been taking place in their own establishments, with a particular emphasis on energy related projects.

Councillor Anthony Blagg, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: "The Eco Schools Conferences are primarily aimed at schools as a reward to their eco committees for all their hard work over the year.

"We wanted our young eco warriors to get an understanding about the causes and prevention of pollution on a wider scale as well as getting them to think about combating types of pollution they might encounter locally in their daily lives.

"It was the first time the eco detective format had been used and while all the learning objectives were met it was also great fun. The feedback we have had has all been very positive and the conferences this year were a great success."

All schools across Worcestershire who are signed up to the Energy Management and Sustainable Schools module of the Property Services Service Level Agreement are invited to attend the conferences free of charge. Other schools who wish to attend can pay to do so.