7 February 1997


FIVE sixth formers from Parkstone Grammar School, an all girls school in Poole, Dorset, have won £3000 in a national competition for their school to spend on books or equipment.

They were the first prize winners in what is to become an annual competition run by the Willmot Pertwee Conservation Trust. The contest, which was well supported with entries, calls for group projects showing originality, scientific content and relevance to some aspect of A level syllabuses.

It aims to draw the attention of A level students to conservation work in the UK, and to make them aware that conservation is not just about the survival of creatures like the black rhino or the Bengal tiger, explained Christopher Pertwee, the trusts chairman.

The creatures that the winning team studied were a far cry from rhinos and tigers. Daphnia and two forms of algae were at the centre of their study into the biological effects of anti-fouling paint, that is the paint used to discourage barnacles and the like from attaching themselves to the underside of boats. Laboratory tests carried out by the girls in their free time, showed that none of the organisms studied could survive in the vicinity of the paint.

The Heath fritillary butterfly was the subject of the runner-up study. A group of pupils from Kings School, Canterbury, Kent received a cheque for £2000 for their project which looked at the factors influencing this butterflys population and distribution. Another group of pupils from the same school took third prize, a cheque for £1000, for their work on an educational nature trail.

The fourth prize, £500, went to Merchant Taylors School for Girls in Crosby, Liverpool for a study carried out by 11 pupils of the distribution of the red squirrel in south Lancashire and Merseyside

The selection of the winners was unanimous, said Professor Sir Colin Spedding, who chaired the judging panel. "The judges enjoyed reading the very varied entries," he said.

London Zoo was the venue for the prize giving and the trust used the event to launch a new text book on conservation in Great Britain intended for A level biology students.

Conservation in Britain is its title and a copy will be sent to each school with a sixth form nationwide. It was written by Dr Ron Pickering, head of biology at Kings School, Canterbury, who said that he had been uplifted by what he discovered through his meetings with farmers and others who have care of the countryside.

Talk of conservation is often so gloomy, he said, concerned with the rain forests in Brazil and soil erosion elsewhere overseas, but he received a positive view of the conservation work that is going on in Britain.

Ann Rogers

Above: Barry Sharp of Willmot Pertwee presents awards to the Parkstone team (LtoR) Elizabeth Russell, Caroline Smales, Maia Gedde, Aysha Jones and Rebecca Edwards. Right:The Parkstone team with representatives from Kings School (left) and Merchant Taylors School (right).

Dr Ron Pickering with his book which was launched at the ceremony and is to be sent to schools.

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