London pupils become conservationists at wetland centre

WWT London Wetland Centre

Wetlands are essential for life. The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) creates and protects wetland habitats to provide water, food and shelter for people and wildlife. We save species around the world from extinction; our nine UK Wetland Centres inspire thousands of visitors to enjoy being close to nature.

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Pupils from a school in Camberwell, London have been taking part in an investigative activity that allows learners to be conservation scientists for the day. The WWT London Wetland Centre is trialling Conservation Explorers, which offers schoolchildren from Key Stages 2 and 3 the chance to to study endangered birds. Sacred Heart School’s budding conservationists have been measuring birds’ preening rates, using digital photography to help identify species on the wetlands and more.

Sacred Heart pupils carried a GPS device which tracks their route around the WWT (Wildfowl & Wetland Trust) wetland centre. They then upload their research results to specific points on their track via a bespoke website, which provides content for further sessions once they’ve returned to school.

“The kids have really enjoyed the independent style of the task and using the equipment, which we don’t have at school,” said Sacred Heart teacher Sophie Beattie. “Seeing them using it in context and understanding how it’s used by conservationists at the Trust has been great.”

Since 1946, over two million pupils have visited WWT Wetland Centres, a 105-acre wetland visitor centre in Barnes, southwest London. It is an international award-winning visitor attraction and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

London Wetland Centre learning manager Paul Lawston said: “Conservation Explorers allows pupils to experience real-life techniques used by WWT scientists when they’re carrying out essential conservation work. They get a chance to independently explore part of the reserve carrying out their own enquiries and then use GPS technology to map their results and compare them with other classes on the web.”

The Centre is home to a wide range of wildlife species including birds, water voles, bats and amphibians.

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