Last Saturday we enjoyed a soggy yet inspiring morning of geography fieldwork at Hatchet Pond, with experts on hand to show us the links between the classroom and the workplace.
Over 20 staff and committee members from Hampshire Geographical Association were joined by professionals, Dr Naomi Ewald from the Freshwater Habitats Trust and Julie Melin-Stubbs from the New Forest Land Advice Service to discuss and discover the opportunities offered by research in to diffuse pollution in the New Forest. The day was co-ordinated by education staff from New Forest National Park Authority, and involved a mixture of experts talks, practical surveying and water testing, and a chance to discuss and share ideas of how to use this case study in the classroom.
Many of the waterbodies and streams of the New Forest are in “good” ecological condition, as required by the Water Framework Directive, but professionals working in the area are keen to improve these ratings to “high” to reflect the sensitivity of this unique catchment in order to encourage even higher biodiversity.
Naomi shared with us the trials and tribulations of collecting and analysing nitrate and phosphate levels and biological indicators on a catchment with so many tiny streams. We then tried out different methods of testing phosphate levels in the field using simple ready prepared reagants. To bring it all together, Julie showed us how data showing local peaks and troughs in nitrate and phosphate levels can provide impetus for changes in land management, especially when working with a co-operative group of landowners, enabling them to access funding sources such as higher level stewardship and catchment sensitive farming schemes.
Trainee and experienced teachers alike were keen to share their imaginative idea of how they might use this information in the classroom. Ideas included collecting data from local streams, field visits to the New Forest, virtual field trips and analysis of the data provided, extended projects for gifted and talented students and even cross curricular trips with environmental studies and biology departments. Everyone went home with a teachers’ pack, data sets to manipulate, present, analyse and supplement, the opportunity to try out phosphate sampling equipment with their own students and hopefully a fresh perspective on managing diffuse pollution in the New Forest.
To find out more about how you can use this case study in your school or setting contact Education Officer Helen Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or keep an eye out on www.newforestcurriculum.org.uk in the coming months as we develop the Key Stage 4 and A-level resources available.