Freshwater Habitats Trust are running a Clean Water for Wildlife survey, to assess pollution levels and discover new clean water sites. I signed up to take part as this is an ideal geoscience learning opportunity!

Any freshwater site will do – a community garden pond, local river, or lake. If nothing obvious springs to mind, the Trust do mention that you could test rainwater from your water butt or tap water in your home. We’ve opted to test a pond.

Collecting our water sample.

We watched the YouTube video and the kids got super excited by the chemical reaction colour change, depicted in the vid. I gently pointed out that the “good” outcome sought is actually the zero colour change – to indicate no/minimal pollution!

Running the Clean Water Tests

After I did all the boring bits – reading through the Teachers Notes, Health & Safety Info Pack, and so on – we duly geared up to collect our first water sample. We used a small plastic container, much like the one in the video. The kids dipped the tub (and lid) in the water. We managed to retrieve a modest inch of liquid, which was ample. We went home to conduct the actual nutrient testing at our convenience. The kids were very good at divvy up the tasks without prompting; one child tested for nitrate and the other tested for phosphate. The tests took 3-5 minutes for results.

Chemical analysis for Clean Water for Wildlife survey.

Nutrient testing, for phosphate and nitrate.

As anticipated, we obtained clear proof that our chosen pond was extremely clean and wildlife friendly. Our results indicate a great result for the environment, even if it’s not the most exciting one!

Study Extension Activities

To supplement our mini science experiment, we read through some of the worksheets in the Student Pack plus some supplementary British Habitats Fact Sheets. We also used a B&W writing frame, that I designed with Twinkl Create, to write about our activities. The kids helped me look up the grid reference for our site location. I’ve submitted our results on their behalf.

Geoscience and ELA worksheets.

Worksheets from Twinkl and Freshwater Habitats Trust.

This was a really fun, simple science project – with plenty of opportunity for interesting tangents. If you’re in England or Wales this year and can take part, get in touch with Freshwater Habitats Trust and request a test kit – one per waterbody, if homeschooling, or perhaps one per pair/team for schools or groups. We definitely recommend you give it a go!