PUPILS in local schools are exploring the secret world of creepy crawlies, as part of a project from the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership to record and celebrate invertebrates.
During May, June and July the AONB Partnership is taking its Cold-blooded and Spineless project into schools throughout Weardale, and children will learn more about the insects that are so important to the North Pennines and beyond. Younger children have been looking at invertebrates and other living things in a series of educational sessions, and each school has had the chance to see and take part in ‘Six Legs’, a lively and engaging play which brings to life the secret stories of the insects all around us. Small groups involving older children will then take part in sessions with artists, to produce materials for an invertebrate trail that will be installed in a community space later in the year.
‘Six Legs’ is an original and imaginative theatre show that was developed by Cap-a-Pie Theatre Company and insect scientist Dr Vivek Nityananda from Newcastle University. Cap-a-Pie has now been commissioned by the AONB Partnership to produce a new version of ‘Six Legs,’ which features insects local to the North Pennines. There will be four performances in Weardale, attended by children from six Weardale primary schools and one Teesdale school.
Samantha Tranter, the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Cold-blooded and Spineless Project Officer, said: “We’re excited to have Cap-a-Pie here to perform ‘Six Legs’ and help bring the stories of these valuable insects to life. We hope that the children who take part in the sessions will be inspired by insects and mini-beasts and want to learn more about the important role they play, both locally and in the wider ecosystem.”
Cap-a-Pie’s Artistic Director Brad McCormick said: “Six Legs is a really imaginative and inspiring show for children. We hope the audience leave wanting to find and see insects, as well as having an understanding of what makes the North Pennines such an important and unique place for insects.”
There are 30,000 different species of invertebrate in the UK. According to the State of Nature report, 66% of invertebrates studied in the uplands have declined in the last 50 years. Yet for many species there is insufficient data to predict population health. Invertebrates are underappreciated for their contribution to the function of our ecosystems, from soil nutrient cycling to pest control and pollination. Many invertebrates are a vital food source for all types of birds, fish and mammals.
The education sessions are being delivered on behalf of the AONB Partnership by Jill Essam from the Harehope Quarry Project. Groups from Wolsingham School, and from Wolsingham, Frosterley, Stanhope Barrington, St John’s Chapel, Rookhope, Wearhead and Forest of Teesdale Primary Schools will be taking part. Cold-blooded and Spineless has been funded by the National Lottery, through the Heritage Lottery Fund, and runs until 2019. The Cap-a-Pie performances were supported using public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.