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UCLan worm expert helps Preston school take science underground

Posted on - 7th March, 2021 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Education, Preston News, Schools, UCLan
The UCLan campus in Preston Pic: Tony Worrall
UCLan’s campus in Preston Pic: Tony Worrall

One Preston school hasn’t let lockdown stop its pupils from getting hands-on with science after teaming up with a University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) researcher to explore the importance of earthworms.

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St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School in Deepdale is working with UCLan earthworm expert Dr Kevin Butt on an ongoing project to discover the vital role earthworms play in our ecosystems.

St Gregory’s has set up six wormeries for the whole school to work with so that all pupils can look after the worms and take part in experiments.

Read more: UCLan Vice Chancellor joins the Lancashire City of Culture 2025 bid team

The project is also part of the Tomorrow’s Climate Scientists programme, funded by The Royal Society’s Partnership Grants scheme, which helps schools who are specifically researching climate change and biodiversity and aims to encourage students to take action themselves to address these issues.

Kevin invited St Gregory’s to his ‘Live from the Laboratory’ session via video link, where the children were introduced to the different species of earthworms and learned about their lifecycles, how they help humans and how to set up a wormery.

Reader in Ecology Dr Kevin Butt said: “I’m delighted to be working with St Gregory’s on this exciting project. Everyone ought to be aware that earthworms play a vital role in maintaining healthy soils and are natural recyclers of organic waste.”

Reader in Ecology Dr Kevin Butt

St Gregory’s teacher Dee Chamberlain, who is running the project, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for our children, one which would not have been possible without the involvement and support of both Dr Butt and the Royal Society.

“Over the coming months the children are going to be actively engaged in scientific research and investigation, raising and answering questions to discover for themselves why earthworms are so important to our world – giving real meaning and purpose to their learning and helping them to see that science is all around them and something that they can be part of.

“Dr Butt is quite inspirational and staff and pupils alike are ‘buzzing’ with excitement.”

Read more: 300 student nurses from UCLan sent to the Covid frontline at hospitals across the North West

The pupils will be guided by Kevin throughout the project as the school looks to grow its wormeries. The children will learn how to look after composting and soil dwelling worms and monitor their growth and reproduction cycles, as well as performing scientific tests on the soil.

Kevin added: “Despite lockdown restrictions, we’ve still been able to get hands-on with science and hopefully inspire the pupils by showing them how science touches their everyday lives and the role the children themselves can play in it.

“I’m looking forward to going into St Gregory’s in the future to help the pupils in each class with their experiments on their very own wormery and the older children to do more sophisticated experiments feeding different leaves to soil dwelling earthworms.”

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