Science Trip – July 2022

On Friday Willow Class had the exciting opportunity to visit a working field site to witness the process of sampling as part of a longer project run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.  We were welcomed by Dr Heidrun Frauchtmayr and her team.  The children were split into 3 groups and rotated round the different areas.  The field site sits right next to  a huge wind turbine, which can be seen from the M6 next to the university.

On arrival we had a welcome and detailed what they did at the site and what we would be doing that afternoon.

One group went into the office to see some different species of animals that can be found in local waterways and we were informed of how different waterways can hold quite different species of animals.  The children were enjoying this as they had some information from our recent trip to Leighton Moss.  They felt knowledgeable and asked some really relevant and interesting questions.  They also had a chance to see some freshwater creatures under a microscope.  They were enthralled at the size of these, quoting; “They are much larger than using a magnifying glass or binoculars.”

One group did the food web outdoor activity game.  The children had a talk from George about what affects the changes in food webs. Again the children were able to answer the questions and asked further questions to deepen their understanding and knowledge.  In this session the children were asked about the changes having an affect on some of the animals in the food web and what the consequences would be from these changes.  If certain animals died out as a result what would the impact be on the existing ecosystem. Very interesting stuff.


One group were with Dr Frauchtmayr who told us about freshwater sampling, the equipment used and how samples are taken.  She showed the children some of the equipment, one item being an Algae Torch.  Then another which cost in excess of £20,000!! Also she showed them the database equipment used for downloading this information and how it is stored.  AFter this the children went to look at the freshwater tanks, which houses water from Windermere.  They are testing the temperature and the algae grown to see if there are any links. She explained how the sampling took place and invited a couple of children to have a go. The equipment for collecting the water sample was not very technical as it was a piece of drainpipe with a bung on the end.  The children loved doing this as it caused water to be splashed.  They also had an opportunity to use the fishing net to catch any of the sticklebacks in the tanks.  Some groups were more successful than others.  The sticklebacks were brown when we were looking down on them but when on their sides they were a beautiful shimmering silver.  The male fish had slightly redder bellys than the females.



All in all we had a great afternoon and learnt how exciting it is to be a real scientist.  Thank you for the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology for giving the children a chance to see the important work you do.