Pupils from schools as far away as the USA, Finland, France, German and Greenland visited the River Tay in November for the first study visit of the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Schools Network
The event was hosted by pupils from Perth High School which included a week long programme. Visiting students took part in a hatchery visit, Spey casting lessons at Meikleour on the Tay, a visit to Pitlochry to the dam and freshwater lab. The project was developed by biology teacher David Ritchie and in partnership with the other schools led a successful Erasmus grant bid. This grant will fund further study visits for the network. Pupils from Perth High will travel fully funded to Finland in February then France and Germany over the next two years. To keep up with the project please visit the webpage or the Facebook page.
Quote from Lewis Cargill aged 16
“This week was an enjoyable, education and beneficial event. I made so many friends throughout the week, some still in contact with. I learned new skills like fly casting which I quickly pick up and was ‘a natural’. The final product of the week was a sway presentation created by multiple groups of students who all contributed to the presentation. It involved all the knowledge and experience we had learned over the week. Not only does this network benefit me and all the students, but the salmon. The network encourages students to take part in the project, it educates them about the importance of salmon conservation and the role salmon play in our world”.
The Atlantic salmon conservation schools network is now in its second year of existence; it incorporates 14 schools in 9 different countries and is actively growing the size of its network. A group of schools within the EU region have been the recipient of EU Erasmus funding to enable a series of study visit up to the end of 2018. North American based schools have also been recipients of funding awards to facilitate their participation in the programme.
Schools are increasingly looking to broaden their curriculums and engage with the wider community in genuine partnership working. The ASCSN provides an opportunity to do this which is mutually beneficial to both the schools and local river trusts and river authorities. The ASCSN gives a framework to promote the fostering of such educational partnerships and take learning beyond the constraints of the classroom. The ASCSN gives a contextualised environmental learning experience to its participants and promotes citizenship.
The extensive geographical area that the ASCSN covers creates a need to embrace digital learning at its core to allow for collaboration to occur between schools, despite the obvious geographical barriers. The development of digital skills and competence is a key educational priority across the European Union and beyond. At its core the ASCSN utilises digital geo-media applications which allows individual schools to contribute to a wider project output. The use of geo media provides an information and data source for the learning of others within the network.
GeoMedia is a digital management platform that that allows the users to aggregate data from a variety of sources and analyze them in unison to extract clear, actionable information.
The ASCSN is an ever growing group of schools throughout the north Atlantic, collaborating to study the Atlantic salmon. The ASCSN recently received EU funds to run a series of study visits, the first and most recent being in Scotland during November 2016. The ultimate aim is to expand the network so that all countries which have Atlantic salmon in their waters and rivers are involved. Then within each country involve as many schools as possible with a local Salmon River or specific feeding ground.
As well as growing the network, running Erasmus funded exchanges we are currently setting up a citizen science programme where schools can contribute to the collection of valid scientific data then share this data by using a standardised procedure across the network. The ASCSN are also launching a salmon genetic profiling project where salmon DNA will be collected by students, then analysed, for each of the respective countries / rivers within the network. Both of the aforementioned projects illustrate the principle educational aims of the ASCSN; to give schools a focused and contextualised outlet for scientific work. Value is then added by the use of geo-media applications to share their learning and collaborate further.
Anne Woodcock – FishPal