Nature teaches

By Country News

Five thousand students from 150 schools across Victoria are now fully qualified junior citizen scientists and have learnt some amazing lessons in the greatest classroom in the world — their local waterway.

For the past two years, four catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water have been helping schools deliver the Victorian Waterwatch program as part of the curriculum through the River Detectives program.

River Detectives connects schools to their local waterways, so students can observe, monitor and learn more about the importance of catchment health.

North Central CMA regional Waterwatch co-ordinator Cass Davis said schools and groups that were a part of the River Detectives program received equipment, recorded and explored data through an interactive website and got to know a lot about their local creeks, rivers and wetlands.

‘‘Teachers and other educators learn about testing through professional learning workshops to help facilitate the monitoring of their local waterway with their students, and celebrate key events,’’ Ms Davis said.

‘‘We received funding for two years through the Water for Victoria program, which is part of the Victorian Government’s investment of $222million over four years to improve catchment and waterway health across the state.

‘‘And we have achieved some great outcomes off the back of that funding.

‘‘We are confident that program is having a significant impact on students.

‘‘Results from our surveys indicate students are more engaged when they are outside learning about nature.’’