News - April 13, 2011

Water walk in Sonsbeek and Zypendaal Parks

One hundred and twenty primary school and vocational secondary school pupils did Van Hall Larenstein's 'water walk' on Tuesday 12th of April. They carried out water experiments in two Arnhem parks under the supervision of lecturers from the University of Applied Sciences.

The sun comes out while a primary school pupil drags a net through the pond in the grounds of Zypendaal Castle. The catch is put in a small bowl and compared with a card showing pictures of water creatures. The pupils in the top class list what they have found: 'Frogspawn, water-boatmen, a three-spined stickleback, a leech.' A girl shrinks back. 'And saucer bugs', adds Tim van Leeuwen. He is a fourth-year student in Forestry and Nature Management at Van Hall Larenstein and is showing the children macrofauna in the pond together with fellow student Robin Kraaij.

The children are taking a water walk through Sonsbeek and Zypendaal parks in Arnhem. Lecturers or students from Van Hall Larenstein are standing ready with an experiment at eight locations. The pupils might measure the water's flow rate, for example, or determine the difference in level between two ponds.
The University of Applied Sciences is organizing this 'water activities day' for the Geoweek in collaboration with the Water Museum. One hundred and twenty pupils from primary schools and vocational secondary schools are taking part in the water activities day. 'The primary school pupils are a lot smarter and more enthusiastic than the vocational secondary school pupils', says Kraaij.

The main reaction of Iris, in the top class of the De Hien primary school in Dodewaard, is that it is cold. She does enjoy the assignments, though. 'I thought we would be doing a lot of things with water but it is mostly measuring.' Her friend Jannieke: 'It is nice to be actually doing something rather than listening the whole time.' Would they be interested in working with water or as a biologist later? 'No, not really', they both say.
But 'later' is still a long way off for primary school pupils, notes Sylvia de Jager, a lecturer at Van Hall Larenstein. She is standing on the other side of Zypendaal Castle and is letting the children measure the quality of the water. 'It is good that they get some idea now that this discipline exists.' There are huge differences between the pupils, according to De Jager. 'Some are not remotely interested while others want to know everything.'
Manon and Marloes, who are in the final year of the vocational secondary school Over Betuwe College in Bemmel, have chosen biology as an exam subject but find it too cold. 'I would have enjoyed this in the summer', says Manon.