|Local naturalist Gordon Waterhouse looking at South Brent Primary schools display in the upper freshwater reaches of the Avon.|
|Loddiswell Primary School's display of the lower river catchment|
|A pupil's plasticene model of the River Avon|
|Aveton Gifford's Multi Media display to showcase the upper estuary wildlife!|
|Thurlestone Primary School's colourful display - including sensory objects!|
|Caddis Fly Larvae|
|Rock covered in caddis fly larvae|
|A life size egret from a crafty pupil|
So, we started in the upper reaches of the Avon with the display entitled, "Our Island". In South Brent the school's local patch of the Avon forks to form an island which locally is simply called, "The Island". The children from South Brent Primary School had created a beautiful display of their Island. They showed real imagination and skill with their poems inspired by their Da Vincian sensory exploration. They also illustrated their local wildlife which we saw on the day - the caddis fly larvae, the dipper, the nuthatch and the real stars - the Jay that swooped down onto the Tawny Owl. The children discovered that there were not many invertebrates in the area they kick sampled perhaps due to a suspicious looking outfall pipe from a neighbouring house. The tawny owl they drew had an opening flap to reveal a happily digesting mouse!
We then moved down from the fast flowing island to the more leisurely flowing river down at Aveton Gifford. Here, the children were delighted to find an array of invertebrates from freshwater shrimp, dragonfly larvae and damselfly larvae - the signs of a really healthy, clean river - as was the Dipper. Their display showed some really well drawn freshwater shrimp with all physiology in tact! They included a lovely poem with the description, "The Avon is magic, like a bold wizard." A wonderful description which really showed how much the Avon had inspired them!
Aveton Gifford Primary School had really gone to town - well to estuary I suppose. They had created an amazing display of multi media wonders. They had all been given homework to create something to contribute to the display. There were two powerpoint presentations showing amazing PC skills and fantastic content! There were papier mache models of the river, swans, egrets and a life size heron! They had looked at the species they had found and written facts on each one. There was also some beautiful writing, poetry and pictures. As you might guess - this school became the winning school for their enthusiasm, content and efforts. Although, there were some close contenders! They had the upper estuary catchment to explore - which included succulent samphire, swans, egrets and seaweed plus freshwater streams teaming with tadpoles and the odd newt!
Finally, we had Thurlestone Primary School's colourful and artistic interpretation of their part of the Avon - the saltiest, most marine of the 4 patches. Their display was full of pictures of fish, seaweed, sand eels and crabs! The wonderful "Peace" poem as previously blogged was also included. Following on from their sensory exploration they included some buckets of seaweed and estuary gravel to help bring the experience to life!
All four schools were incredibly impressive with their very different displays. They were very involved in their nature journals and I hope they will continue to use these to explore their local surroundings. It has been a wonderful experience to be involved in this project. It has been great to see that the children were able to explore their local patch of the Avon - all within walking distance. It has also been very encouraging to offer the 4 schools vouchers for field studies kit to use on future trips. The 3 schools received £50 of field studies kit and the fourth winning school £200 of field studies kit. This is really encouraging to think that the children will have better opportunities to explore their surroundings in the future!
Thanks to the Aune Conservation Association and South Devon AONB for funding the project, the 4 local schools for their inspiring work and the 3 expert judges Stuart Watts (chairman of the ACA), Gordon Waterhouse and Don Gaskins. It has been a real pleasure to take the journey from moor to sea with the school children.