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Eco-island: Sludge River activity 4

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Make a garden and find good alternatives to using chemical pesticides when looking after the plants

Key Stages 1 & 2

Key Stage 1 curriculum links: Sc1 2a-d & 2g-i; Sc2 1c & 5c. Geography 5a-b.

Key Stage 2 curriculum links: Sc1 1b, 2a-j, Sc2 1c, 5c.

What to do: Explain to the children what pesticides are used for and what they are made of. Discuss the dangers caused by chemicals that pollute our soil and water, get into our rivers and upset the natural balance of the environment. Investigate natural, safe alternatives to using pesticides to find ways to stop slugs and snails from eating plants without actually killing them. Make a small garden in a suitable area of your school grounds and bring in some small leafy plants. When everything is planted, place some of the following things around the base of the plants: crushed eggshells, garlic oil, powdered ginger, gravel chips, cedar or oak bark chips, a circle of sandpaper, lavender, sprigs of rosemary or a saucer of beer. You should leave some plants with nothing around them for the purposes of the experiment. Label each plant with what is around it. Leave the plants for a period of time, but keep watch and record any damage done by slugs. (The best preventatives are often the gravel and crushed egg shells.) Which natural repellent proved the most effective? Which were not particularly effective? Can the children think of reasons why?

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