It’s our mission

Here at The Rock Pool Project (TRPP), we are devoted to helping people of all ages learn about the wonderful local wildlife found along the UK’s shores. This is reflected in our mission statement:

…because we need wildlife, and wildlife needs us.

Many of our activities centre around spending a day at the beach, seeking out all the incredible creatures living on and under the barnacle-crusted rocks. However, we know that not every child has the opportunity to visit the beach and explore the rock pools themselves. This is why we are prepared to bring the beach to you!

Crab says "HELLO!"
Connecting students with local wildlife

Connecting your class to the rocky shore

How well I know the allure of the sea and feel a deep love for rocky shores and the wildlife contained therein. I remember my first experience along the shore when I was a child, chasing crabs into burrows and seeking shells tossed by the surf. Though I was born far from the sea, I was privileged to enjoy a seaside holiday where I learned about marine wildlife. Even though Plymouth’s rock pools are close and relatively accessible, many families don’t have the time or means to explore their local shores.

This is one of the reasons why TRPP created a mobile rock pool and virtual rock pooling experience! Introducing the next generation of rock poolers to a world that is so close and fascinating is one of the best things we do as TRPP volunteers. It is key to our mission and close to our hearts. It is one of the main things that drives and unites TRPP.

Last week, I was lucky enough to help prepare and present one of these virtual experiences for the children of Bishop Cornish C of E VA Primary School in Saltash. The school asked us to deliver a short assembly that would teach children about rocky shore wildlife, followed by a visit to their Year 2 Class for a game of TRPP Rock Pool Bingo!

Hands-on wildlife exploration
TRPP's Mobile Rock Pool brings the rock pool to your school!

Inspiring students to explore their world

Arriving at the school, we were warmly welcomed by a team of teachers and administrators devoted to helping their students receive a fun, educational experience. We prepared for the school assembly in a cheerful multi-purpose room overlooking a rolling green where 3 alpacas grazed peacefully, despite a persistent mizzle. Soon we heard the cheerful chatter of young voices as nearly 200 students filed into the room. Some of the older students politely helped set out chairs for teachers and staff before taking a seat themselves, while the younger students pattered to their places before sitting cross-legged on the floor. After a brief introduction and a hearty “Good Morning!” from the students, we began.

As Alan, our co-founder and education director, began to speak, the students were transported through image and information to a world that enthrals young and old alike. We shared tales of sea stars and snails, crabs and limpets. While some students already knew a good deal about rock pool creatures, it was clear that others had never heard of a limpet or periwinkle. By the end, you could feel the shared excitement in the room. A new generation was inspired to look beneath the rocks that line the shore! The assembly ended with a chorus of thanks, and we waved goodbye as the students filed out, returning to their classrooms.

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A limpet explores the barnacle-encrusted rocks


But we weren’t done yet! Off we went to visit the Year 2s! TRPP has developed an incredibly fun and innovative way to teach young children about the shore, even while they sit in the classroom, no matter how far they are from the beach: Rock Pool BINGO!!

Using a presentation and our Rock Pool Bingo handout, students choose a number 1-9, with each number corresponding to a rock pool resident. Students tick the animal off their bingo sheet, and we teach them a little about the animal. We end the mini-lesson with a question to ensure students have absorbed a key fact. In this way, students learn through game-play about some amazing animals. They also get a chance to share what they already know and have the opportunity to win some fun prizes along the way!

The students enthusiastically played along, answering questions as they learnt about the Solar Powered Sea Slug, Stalked Jellyfish and Squat Lobster, to name a few. One by one, we shared facts that fascinated our young hosts. Did you know that anemones are animals (not plants) and, in fact, are upside-down jellyfish? Have you ever heard of the shore rockling? It’s a fish with barbs that help it “taste” the surrounding water! Fact-by-fact energised the room until, at last, to shouts of “BINGO!” the game was done!

As our time with this incredible class drew to a close, I felt the joy any one-time teacher knows so well: when your students have learnt something that makes them want to learn more. In a time of rising costs, where schools must make hard choices about how to spend limited funds, we as a society must remember how valuable these supplemental educational experiences are to developing a community of engaged citizens and a lifetime love of learning. Organisations like TRPP work to inspire, teach and connect students and their communities to ensure a brighter future for all.

As we walked out into the weather, I realised how vital inspiration, education and connection are to our students. And that they work both ways. After all, that is what connection is all about, learning together, inspiring one another, and working to build the brightest future possible for all, especially the brilliant young superstars like those who attend Bishop Cornish C of E VA Primary School.

Thank you, Bishop Cornish C of E VA Primary School, for inviting us to speak with, teach and learn from you!

A fun and interactive learning experience!
Learning together, inspiring one anther, building a bright future for all

By: Ari Drummond (PhD Candidate, University of Plymouth) 

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