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Pupils take part in a workshop

School pupils join University of Exeter for Environment and Sustainability Day

In February Year 9 pupils from schools around Cornwall spent the day at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus for the annual Environment and Sustainability Day, which was this year based on the theme ‘Sustainable Futures for Cornwall’.

In its eighth year and based at the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI), the day involved 50 students from Penrice Academy, Pool Academy and Penryn College participating in a range of thought provoking and creative activities.

Following the ESI’s ethos as an interdisciplinary centre, staff from a range of fields came together to organise three workshops on the topics of ‘The Red River’, looking at minerals found in the area and working on a piece of creative writing; ‘The Risk of Ocean Plastic’, exploring the threat of plastics to nature’s complex biodiversity; and ‘Land Use in Cornwall’, discussing the trade-offs of different land uses in Cornwall.

Dr Laura Newsome, Lecturer in Geomicrobiology, explains:

“Our workshop took the students on a journey from the minerals that we mine from the ground to use in our modern technology, to the legacy of past mining causing acid mine drainage in the Red River, and invited them to reflect on this to produce a poem.”

Dr Markus Mueller, Senior Lecturer in Applied Mathematics, adds:

“The annual E&S Day gives us the fantastic opportunity to discuss research ideas in a playful way with young students from local schools. Playing a research-inspired game about ocean plastics is great fun and the students very quickly understood the complexity of anthropogenic impact on marine species, and developed ideas about how to mitigate this impact.”

Alongside these activities, students had the chance to see the working laboratories and world-leading research areas, showing how the ESI’s work could directly impact on their futures. At the end of the day, students participated in a poster competition based on the workshops they had attended. This year, Pool Academy won the prize, taking home reusable bamboo cups and some Cornish chocolate.

The aim of this annual event is to not only bring up important issues in everyday life, educating school pupils with unique and engaging methods, but also to encourage student enquiry. The Environment and Sustainability Days are part of the ESI’s objectives to build education and relationships between Cornish communities and the natural environment.


Date: 10 February 2020