Three children from the Roots & Shoots Eco Group were lucky enough to be offered a place on an exciting trip to the Singleton Environmental Centre in Ashford, Kent; only seven schools had the opportunity to attend. This amazing event had been organised by Claire Norman, the Senior Climate Action Officer for Ashford Borough Council and the topic of the day was to look at the impact climate change is having on our natural ponds. In particular, the effects of drought drying up many of our countryside’s ponds, and then an in-depth look at how we could create and maintain a natural pond in our school or at home.
The day started with an open-floor discussion with the children across the schools, hearing what they felt about climate change and what we could do to help our planet combat it. The girls produced a colourful poster with their ideas for what schools could do, what families could do and everyone as individuals. They also brainstormed some ideas on how schools could incorporate the use of ‘ponds’ as an inspiring resource across different subjects.
We then all stopped for a short break with squash and biscuits (and a quick run around) before coming back together to look in more details at what makes a good, healthy pond. Unexpectedly, we had a surprise visit from the Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Jenny Webb, which was lovely. She was very interested to hear what we felt about climate change and enjoyed looking at all our ideas.
For the second session, we split the main group of seven schools in to two. Four school groups went outside to pond dip and the remaining three groups, which included us, looked at pond life identification. We first completed a small quiz to see what each group could identify – we did very well, correctly identifying 17 of the 19 pictures so well done girls! Having our own natural pond already, really helped.
We then got our turn to go outside and pond dip; this was one of the best bits of the day. We were very lucky indeed as not only did we find pond snails and a few water louse, we also found a newt, a damselfly nymph and, the most exciting of all, a water scorpion (the only one found on the day). It was lovely to see actual live versions of the pondlife we had been identifying on our worksheets.
After an exciting morning, we stopped for lunch. As the sun was shining, we had ours outside in a lovely field at the back of the Environmental Centre. It was a little windy so, after lunch and a quick explore, we went in for a hot cup of tea.
In the afternoon session, the teachers went for a brain-storming meeting to talk about how they could improve their outside area and make it more biodiverse. We also discussed Eco School Green Flag Accreditation. Goat Lees achieved theirs for 2021/22 with a Distinction so were able to give lots of advice to the other teachers on how to gather evidence and tips for tackling the paperwork. It was a very helpful session and the schools were able to swap contact details for future exchange of information.
Whilst the teachers were out, the children made their own ‘Pond in a Jar’ using gravel, rain water and living pond plants. They were able to decorate them with pictures of creatures they would like to see in their mini ponds. Everyone was able to take their creations home with them.
The day was a great success and we learnt lots; we are really looking forward to the next session which is due late January, 2023. The topic will be on Native Birds and looking after their environment.
We will keep you posted.