The ‘Rivers and Lochs in the Classroom’ project is a four year project  which is being delivered to primary schools across the regions surrounding the Clyde Estuary by three Fishery Trusts/Foundations. The project is being delivered by Ayrshire Rivers Trust, the Clyde River Foundation and Loch Lomond Fisheries Trust. Funding for this project is being provided by the Greggs Foundation.

Water and Life cycle posters from Ayr Grammar Primary School.

The project focuses on introducing primary school children to the lifecycle of salmon and trout. Through the project the pupils are responsible for raising brown trout from eggs in a special classroom hatchery before releasing the alevins into their local river.

Muir showing the pupils of Newton Primary how their hatchery operates.

During 2016 ART delivered a ‘meet your river’ day to six primary schools across Ayrshire. Introducing the pupils to their local river where we provided an electrofishing demonstration followed by a fish identification workshop. Following this the pupils had the opportunity to get in the water and do a kick sample (invertebrate sample) with staff and teachers supervising, this was followed by an invertebrate identification workshop on the river bank.

In 2017 ART delivered the Rivers and Lochs in the Classroom to 11 schools across Ayrshire. This year we are delivering the project to primary schools across Ayr, Prestwick and Troon.

Pupils of Newton Primary playing salmon snakes and ladders and learning what pressures face our salmon.

The project is delivered over 2 sessions, with ART staff visiting each school for a ‘launch day’ where the children are given an interactive presentation around their local river, the species of fish that inhabit it, the pressures fish face and their survival strategies. After this presentation the pupils get to play a large scale salmon migration floor game and try their hand at fly casting using indoor fly rods. These games link directly to the morning’s presentation and give the pupils a real appreciation for the difficulties Atlantic salmon face when migrating our rivers.

Tight loops….the onlookers were very impressed with the resident fishing maestro’s abilities!

Following these activities the pupils break for lunch after which ART set up a classroom hatchery and discuss the pupil’s responsibilities. We setup the hatchery and cooler with 100 brown trout eggs following the pupils lunch break. The pupils will care for these eggs until they hatch into alevins after which we shall be released into their local river.

Straight into the hoop, perfect score!

Each school is provided with 100 triploid (see below for an explanation) brown trout eggs. Over the course of the next couple of weeks the pupils will record how many eggs hatch, how many die, water temperatures and check the pump and filter are operating effectively.