The trip to Portballintrae beach, which was organised by Eco-Schools NI, was attended by P5-P7 pupils from St Olcan’s Primary School, Armoy Primary School and Straidbilly Primary School, with schools given the opportunity to learn more about species identification in rock-pool aquariums, plastic pollution on our coast and the sand dunes on each beach.
The local schoolchildren were also treated to an expert biodiversity walk from Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust staff, and further fun activities arrived courtesy of a round of litter-pick bingo and a beach-art competition.
Gareth Lamrock, Field Officer at Eco-Schools NI said: “This event really drove home to the pupils that marine litter can have a devastating effect on biodiversity and the overall ecosystem on our local beaches. It was fantastic to see so many students actively taking part and hopefully bringing what they’ve learned further into the future through the Eco-Schools progamme.”
Diane McAuley, P6/7 teacher at St Olcan’s said: “St Olcan's children enjoyed a fun-filled, immersive learning experience at Portballintrae. They loved exploring rock-pools, creating beach art and learning all about marine life and protecting the environment, from the team of field officers.”
Tierna Mullan, Project Officer at Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust said: “Partnership events like this enable us to introduce young people to the outdoor classroom and, on this occasion, educate them about the Causeway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Eco-Schools programme.
“Connecting children with nature and the landscape is one of the most effective ways of teaching, as they are so much more engaged and have the opportunity to learn in different ways. Future projects and events will be undertaken by CCGHT in partnership to restore, protect and recognise the outstanding Causeway Coast landscape.”
Prior to heading to the shore for their marine audit, each school first completed a marine-litter lesson with their Eco-Schools NI Field Officer. The students were then able to apply their learnings on the day, spotting items like microplastics pellets made from polystyrene as well as a common lizard, Ireland’s lone native reptile species.
To book a Coastal Schools workshop for your school, visit www.eco-schoolsni.org.