School children from Bellingham Middle School became scientists for the day thanks to the Northumberland National Park Authority and Albion Outdoors
The pupils were taking part in MICCI, the Moorland Indicators of Climate Change Initiative; a scheme of practical scientific experiments based on peat bog ecology.
Peat covers roughly 15% of the UK and holds about 2300 million tonnes of carbon. Peat bogs are very vulnerable to changes in management practices such as drainage and forestry.
Specialist fieldwork providers Albion Outdoors and staff from the Northumberland National Park Authority gave the pupils an overview of peat bogs, how they are formed and their importance to the environment. They were also taught about the different types of vegetation that is found on peat bogs and how to identify them.
After lunch the students headed out head off onto upland moorlands of Padon Hill Mire to conduct experiments and collect data. Working in small groups the pupils helped to take samples of peat, check soil and water pH levels, temperatures and wind speed.
John Hartshorne from Albion Outdoor, who has been running MICCI sessions with local school and university students for more than three years said, “We had a fantastic day on the moorland with the pupils from Bellingham. It’s always exciting to be able to provide school children with experiences of these important local areas.”
Teacher Elizabeth Armstrong said, “All of the school children thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Having such a hands-on experience and getting to take part in different experiments really helped to bring the learning to life. The pupils were able to see a real link between their local environment and the global issue of climate change”
All the data the pupils help to collect will now be sent to the Peak District National Park to be then analysed by the Moors for the Future partnership. The data is used by scientific researchers who are trying to work out how to best improve and conserve moorland environments to enable them to absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere and combat climate change.
Caroline Cope from the Northumberland National Park Authority said, “We’d like to thank Albion Outdoors and the pupils from Bellingham Middle School for taking part in the Moorland Initiative. We are thrilled to be able to support the school’s curriculum while showcasing the special qualities of the National Park’s environment.”