Students in Staffordshire spent a week working on 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 helping to create an otter holt on the Caldon Canal as well as learning how to repair and rebuild dry stone walls at Hazelhurst. They concluded their week with a visit to Etruria Industrial Museum before taking to the water to enjoy a narrowboat trip.

It’s all part of a programme aiming to show how STEM subjects can be put into practice in real-world situations

This is the first time that the programme has been run and its aim is to hold similar activities up to four times a year. As well as the practical activities the students will also be taught 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 engineers from the Canal & River Trust.

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.

“They [the students] 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.”

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