Groups of children looked after their own little ones over a period of months as part of a river eco-system education initiative.
Youngsters from Cambo and Longhorsley St Helen’s first schools, along with children from Collingwood School and Media Arts College in Morpeth, enjoyed various activities and sessions that were organised by the Northumberland Rivers Trust.
Under the heading Trout in the Classroom, they included fish dissections and interactive modelling to help the pupils understand how and why rivers react to rainfall the way that they do and examining how different land management techniques can help reduce pollution.
Throughout the course, they were taken on field trips to the River Wansbeck where they sampled for river fly and did habitat surveys.
In addition, each school received hundreds of brown trout eggs in January as well as a large fish tank with an elaborate cooling and oxygenating system to mimic their natural river environment. The trout hatched out of the eggs in late January.
Ella Vogel, Northumberland Rivers Trust Project Officer, said: “Cleaning and feeding rotas were put in place for the students, who were the sole carers for their fish, and they watched them grow and develop through until July when they were ready to be released into their local river.
“The reason for releasing their fish into the river is to try and instil a sense of ownership of the river among the kids, as their fish now live there.
“We hope that this will lead to an ongoing respect for the river environment and a deeper understanding as to the pressures that the health of the rivers are under.”
Cambo First School headteacher Paula Cummings said that as well as cleaning and feeding, her pupils regularly monitored the tank temperature and checked the water quality.
She added: “We know we have done a good job as we were able to restock the River Wansbeck with good, healthy fish.
“After we released the trout, there were a few days left before the summer holidays and the classroom didn’t feel the same.”