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Thursday 5 July 2018  - 11:00 GMT

Hundreds of Fife pupils net ecology lesson at ExxonMobil’s environmental pond

Mossmorran, Fife: In recent weeks, hundreds of primary pupils from schools across Fife have been given a fascinating insight to aqua life, ecology and conservation after visiting ExxonMobil’s specially-landscaped environmental pond at its Mossmorran site. The annual educational initiative involves parties of primary three and above pupils learning about frogs, toads, newts, sticklebacks, beetles and swamp and aquatic plants as well as learning about ExxonMobil’s marine eco-system at Fife Ethylene Plant (FEP).

They get up close to the amphibians by fishing them out in nets from the 19m-long pond to identify the species and learn the science behind aqua culture.

Among participating primary schools were Burntisland, Crossgates, Cowdenbeath, Dalgety Bay, Foulford, Lochgelly West, Lochgelly South, St. Patrick’s R.C., Lumphinnans, St John’s R.C. Primary in Rosyth, and St Brides R.C. Primary school in Cowdenbeath.

Class teacher at St John’s R.C. Primary, Elaine Mairs, who has been involved in attending the site visits for more than 10 years, said: “The children really enjoy the experience. It is both educational and fun. They love catching and looking at a variety of pond life.

“It’s such a popular, worthwhile excursion and there’s always a huge demand because it’s an experience that you can’t offer in a classroom setting and those that run it have a wealth of knowledge that we don’t have to answer the children’s many questions.”

The popular ‘pond dipping’ event, which marked its 20th anniversary last year and is supported by The Ecology Centre at Kinghorn Loch, was the brainchild of retired ExxonMobil employee, Duncan Rogers.

He said: “I am very interested in ecology and the environment and one day, while I was walking in the woodland next to FEP, I came up with the idea after seeing frogs and other amphibians running around in the grass. I thought it could be used to educate people at a grass roots level and so we held a school competition to design the pond at McLean Primary where my daughter went.

“I also had support from Heriot Watt University and Fife company, T&N Gilmartin, were the landscapers. The pond is 1.1m deep so that it can protect the amphibians when it’s cold and has an island so that frogs can get in to the mud at the deep end.

“We added swamp and aquatic plants like elador krispies, lilies, ivy and irises. It’s about colonisation and giving back to the environment, and I really like hearing that the pond dipping is still going on. Knowing that people who went as children are now taking their children or other people’s children to the pond to learn about amphibians, aquatic life and ecology gives me great pleasure.”

FEP’s environmental pond education programme is one of a number of educational, STEM (Science, engineering, technology and maths) and eco-friendly initiatives that the staff are involved with.

Catherine Cubitt, community affairs co-ordinator at FEP, said: “The pond dipping is extremely popular and over the past 21 years, we’ve hosted more than 20,000 children from local communities on site for the half-day educational event which also includes some classroom work.”

ExxonMobil FEP also hosts tours of the FEP facilities for secondary schools and universities. Other established activities include ExxonMobil’s Link Schools programme which supports the teaching of science, engineering, technology and maths (STEM) at 13 schools in Fife. Environmental projects include recycling and energy efficiency programmes. FEP has sponsored Energy Action Scotland and funded projects to improve the energy efficiency of community buildings.

Issued on behalf of ExxonMobil by BIG Partnership. For further details, please contact Karen Grant on 0131 557 5252 or karen.grant@bigpartnership.co.uk

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