Tyne Rivers Trust
We're supporting Tyne Rivers Trust with their schools engagement programme for children in Key Stages 1 and 2. We got a great report back from their first session and thought we'd share it ....
We ventured to the River Derwent for a kick sampling session to look for river invertebrates and investigate the health of the river. A 28 strong Year 5 class from Bill Quay Primary school came along with their Assistant Head Teacher and Teaching Assistant, their first school trip since pre-covid and all very keen!
When we arrived at the site after a short walk from the car park, I asked the children what the river was called and as they weren’t sure and hadn’t been before, we talked about the River Derwent and how it is a tributary of the Tyne. After a health and safety talk on how to carry out kick sampling in a safe manner and a discussion about how some river invertebrates are bio indicator species giving us an indication of how healthy a river is by their presence and abundance, we split into groups of 2 or 3 and got kitted out with trays, nets, and ID charts.
We had a chat about lifecycles and food chains, discussing why these creepy crawlies were a vital part of a healthy river system and where they fit in a river ecosystem. Without invertebrates in the river there would be very little else. It was fun thinking about what might eat river invertebrates, although I am not sure that sharks, alligators, or jelly fish live in the River Tyne catchment.
We found all of the invertebrates that we were looking for in our identification guides, lots of cased caddis, caseless caddis, freshwater shrimp, stonefly, and all four types of mayfly. We found some mayfly that had emerged into adult flies and explored their life cycle and how some of them only live for around a day.
We also found an eel, a stone loach and a crayfish, unfortunately this was the invasive American signal crayfish, and it was missing one arm, but this was still very exciting for the children to see. They had no idea that crayfish lived in the river, they all thought they had caught a lobster!
We spent a couple of hours at the river kick sampling and talked about how although this river has a very industrial past and we still have work to do to improve it, the river is healthy enough at the moment to sustain these river invertebrates along with other wildlife. The children stopped at the Land of Oak and Iron Heritage Centre for a well-deserved ice cream before the bus journey back to school. We will be following on our session with this class after the summer holidays looking at the whole River Tyne catchment, along with other classes from Bill Quay Primary School who will take part in further river visits.