Staffordshire students bring learning to life on historic canals

Students in Staffordshire have spent this week working on the county’s 200 year old canals as part of a project aimed at bringing Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) to life.
The group from Stoke-on-Trent College spent the week with the Canal & River Trust, helping the charity that cares for 2,000 miles of historic waterways in England & Wales to improve the county’s canals for people and wildlife.

During their time with the Trust the 12 students helped to create an otter holt on the Caldon Canal as well as learning how to repair and rebuild dry stone walls at Hazelhurst. They finished the week with a visit to Etruria Industrial Museum before taking to the water on a narrowboat trip.
It’s all part of a programme aiming to show real world examples of how bring STEM subjects can be put into practice.
It’s the first time the programme has been run and the aim is to hold similar activities up to four times a year. As well as the practical activities the students will also learned about a range of canal-related topics such as how to monitor water quality, the process of bank erosion and how locks are designed. As part of their preparations they had already visited a local lock, been to Rudyard Lake - which feeds the local canal system - and met some of the Trust’s engineers.
Liz Wood, development & engagement manager for the Canal & River Trust said; “The canals in Staffordshire are not only great monuments of engineering but they’re also brilliant places for nature so where better to demonstrate STEM subjects.
“This has been a great opportunity for the students to get out onto their local waterways, learn some practical skills from professional people and apply some of what they’ve learned at college in a real world situation.
“They did a great job and helped us to repair some of the dry stone walls which are so characteristic of the Churnet Valley and improved the habitat for one of the nation’s best-loved species so hopefully they got a lot out of the week.”
Heather Sheldon Head of Apprenticeships and Employer Engagement from Stoke-on-Trent College said, “This is work experience in action, students discovering and exploring the differing opportunities that are available with a company such as the Canal & River Trust, and how subjects such as Science; Technology, Engineering and Maths can be applied to everyday tasks carried out at work.
“This is a golden chance for our students to showcase their skills, abilities and personalities to the employment world. Many thanks to the staff of the Canal & River Trust, a national and local employer supporting local young people in their local community for the benefit of all.”