Walker pupils get food for thought

Eleven year old Walker Technology College pupils had great food for thought with a Newcastle Science City themed lesson about food chains in the North Sea.

Organised by the Dove Marine Laboratory, the ‘Food for Thought’ interactive food webs game gives the pupils an idea of how food chains and webs are formed. It also lets them see the potentially catastrophic result of affecting even just one organism, plant or animal, in the system.

The pupils were given North Sea food web plant and animal cards, and asked each to be one of the organisms in the system, so they actually became the North Sea food web themselves, constructing it based on key facts on the back of each card.

By joining to each other, based on who eats who in the system, scenarios were then established and pupils had to work out the knock-on effects of removing just one organism from the food web.

Peter Arnold, chief executive, Newcastle Science City said: “Science sessions like these will not only give pupils an interesting lesson they will teach them about the world in which they live. I am sure the knowledge they gain from these lessons will stay with them for a long time and inspire them to find out more about the biology of their local coastline and the North Sea.”

Julie Bradley, the advanced skills teacher for science at Walker Technology College said: “It is good for our students to work with people who can give them real-life contexts for their science curriculum. The lesson planned by the Dove Marine Laboratory enabled the students to gain additional, expert knowledge about an environment relevant to them and it was good fun as well.”

By providing real North Sea scenarios including overfishing of cod stocks and sand and gravel extraction for the building trade, pupils were able to grasp the knock-on effects of influencing one organism in the system and that in doing so the presence of almost every other organism would also suffer.

Following on from this practical demonstration of a real life scenario, pupils were presented with various ways in which the North Sea, an environment which is right on these pupil’s doorstep, could be managed for the future.