Bournemouth pupils help come up with designs for Bio-Beach project

Posted on Monday, July 14 2014

Pupils at two local schools have been helping Bournemouth University (BU) researchers come up with designs for structures to increase biodiversity on the town’s beaches.

Pupils at Avonbourne College and Harewood College have been working with BU staff and students on ideas for the Bio-Beach project, which aims to improve and increase the marine life along Bournemouth’s shoreline.

Bio-Beach is a collaboration between BU and Bournemouth Borough Council to place structures on groynes along the local coastline, which will provide refuge for marine life.

The creatures living within them will then be recorded by underwater cameras – giving insight into their habitat and behaviour.

Around 30 pupils from Years 7 – 9 have been working on ideas and prototypes for the project after school, supported by BU student ambassadors and the AspireBU outreach team.

They were given a brief by the BU Bio-Beach researchers to create durable structures that could retain water and provide shelter for marine life.

The pupils came up with designs inspired by everything from rubber ducks to scuba divers, which were made of sustainable and recycled materials including old rope and tires.

Fay Lyon, Science Teacher at Avonbourne College, said: “I think it has been brilliant. They have really loved it actually.

“I think it’s the fact that it’s real world application of science – it’s really useful. These are genuine problems that need to be solved and they can contribute something for that. They have the chance to make a real difference.”

After coming up with initial designs, the pupils had to create prototypes and test them – sandblasting and submerging them in saltwater to see how durable and suitable they would be for the harsh conditions on the beach.

They then shared their ideas with Bio-Beach researchers Dr Roger Herbert and Dr Bob Eves.

Dr Herbert, a Senior Lecturer in Coastal and Marine Biology at BU, said: “The brief was to develop some new designs and features which can encourage a whole range of different things for people to look at and enjoy, as well as increasing the biodiversity of the seashore.

“They worked really hard and have got all sorts of imaginative and interesting ideas.

“When we look at these sorts of problems, we see the obvious constraints but you can learn so much from younger people who don’t see those problems and that’s where their creativity really benefits us.”

Dr Eves, a Senior Lecturer in Product Design, added: “I think what has been great is the imagination and the ideas that they have come up with, because they are free-forming.

“The ideas are coming from children, which will then be enjoyed by other children on the beach.”

The pupils will use feedback from Dr Herbert and Dr Eves to continue working on their designs, with the best ideas and elements then selected for the final Bio-Beach structure.

Year 8 pupil Rebecca Harper was part of a group who created a design which used buckets and old tyres filled with recycled materials like bottle caps and ropes.

She said: “It’s been really fun designing these things and getting to create the prototypes.

“I’ve learnt a lot about the creatures that live on the beach and how to make and reuse things. It would be amazing to see our design on the beach.”

Find out more about the Bio-Beach project