Inspiring Children: Eel in the Classroom

Emily Cooper


If you're considering giving a #PresentForThePlanet this Christmas, you might want to find out more about where your money could be used. Each week, we're going to tell you about a few of our favourite projects which donations like yours could help to support. Today, we're looking at the Eel in the Classroom project from Bristol Avon Rivers Trust. Thank you to Harriet Alvis for this guest blog.


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BART has been running their Eel in the Classroom project (also known as Spawn to be Wild) for the last 5 years, giving more than 8,000 children and their families a chance to engage with their local river like never before – by bringing the European eel to the classroom! Elvers (young eels) are donated to UK Glass Eels in Gloucester by elver fishermen, and approximately 50 eels are placed into the tanks in each school by BART. Before the eels are brought into the schools, we usually receive a lot of interesting and inventive guesses from the children as to what creatures would be going into the tanks set up in their classrooms. Ranging from whales to swimming chickens, none of the children guessed that they would be looking after 50 elvers! Bristol Avon Rivers Trust - Eels in the classroom Helping children to learn more about rivers is one of our core coals. Photo from BART. Once the elvers are in the tanks they are unique in their ability to raise important questions about their lifecycle, threats to survival and what we can do to protect them – all of which are covered in a range of projects by BART. Some of the more interesting questions included can eels talk to each other, and can eels cry? We are yet to find the answers to those! Bristol Avon Rivers Trust - Eels in the classroom We've never seen a photo which better captures the fascination which rivers can bring! Photo from BART. Each class of children rears the European eels for the whole of their Summer term, feeding them every day and learning about all aspects of their lives. At the end of the term, each school releases their eels back into their local river, where we wave them off and promise to not only come back and look out for them whenever we can, but to make sure we do everything we can to keep our river healthy for the eels!
Projects like Eel in the Classroom help children to develop a real appreciation for nature. By nurturing tiny elvers day by day, culminating in their release into the river, the pupils start to understand their importance in our ecosystems. Once the children care about eels, it emphasises the importance of keeping our rivers healthy, too. That's not to mention the positive effects it has on the children's wellbeing; spending time in nature has repeatedly been linked to positive outcomes. Many children wouldn't get the opportunity to experience nature in such a hands-on way without projects like this. That's why we're asking you to consider donating a #PresentforthePlanet; to allow us to reach even more children across the country.
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