Coastal classroom gives young people new learning experience

Sabrina Taseer, Projects Manager at the P1 Marine Foundation

23 April 2015


The P1 Marine Foundation is delighted to have partnered with The Crown Estate, Canterbury City Council and Vattenfall – to provide young people of all backgrounds with opportunities to develop a relationship with the marine and coastal environment.

According to the National Trust, “evidence of a long-term and dramatic decline in children’s relationship with the outdoors is overwhelming and urgent action is needed to bridge this growing gap before it is too late”. In addition, the UK’s marine and coastal environment is facing some serious threats, including pollution, loss of biodiversity and ocean acidification, and so it is important that we educate the next generation about conservation.

The P1 Marine Foundation is a marine preservation charity focused on education and awareness. Energy firm Vattenfall owns and operates the Kentish Flats and Thanet Offshore Wind Farm.

Coastal classroom

Students finding the wind at Reculver

Thanks to funding and support from The Crown Estate and Vattenfall, and input from Canterbury City Council, our Coast Explorer programme has been helping to address children’s growing disconnect with the natural world and encourage their love for the outdoors, at the same time as building their understanding of marine ecology, conservation and renewable energy.

The Coast Explorer outdoor learning experience started at Reculver Beach in Kent, where students found out about coastal habitats, marine ecology and conservation from marine expert Tom Hawkins of Canterbury City Council. Along the way, they also got to look out for animal and plant species in the inter-tidal areas – with sharks’ teeth often proving popular. All trips were completely free of charge to schools, including transport.

The students’ new marine knowledge and their personal experiences on the beach helped them to connect with this fascinating ecosystem and to understand its function and the importance of conservation. We encouraged them to relate what they have learnt to their everyday activity, such as not dropping litter, reducing their waste, being mindful of what they consume and passing on their knowledge to others.

The next part of the day, delivered by Melanie Rogers of Vattenfall, was all about renewable energy. Some 8.5 km off the coast of Reculver is the Kentish Flats Wind Farm, where 45 wind turbines generate enough electricity to power c. 100,000 households. Students were given their own handheld windmills, so that they could try to find the direction of the wind, making a connection with wind energy and renewable power. They were also given electricity kits, which they put together to generate electricity, linking to how the wind turbines all work together. In addition, Melanie shared information about career opportunities in the renewable energy sector, in areas such as engineering, design and environmental management.

With fossil fuels running out and climate change posing growing risks, it is our duty to empower young people to make the right choices for their future.”

Sabrina Taseer of the P1 Marine Foundation

With fossil fuels running out and climate change posing growing risks, it is our duty to empower young people to make the right choices for their future. By learning how energy can be made by harnessing the power of wind through interactive activities, young people consider alternative sources of energy. This will equip them to make decisions relating to energy and environmental issues in the future.

The Coast Explorer programme supported several national curriculum areas, including science, geography, citizenship, maths and history, as well as educational topics including wind power activity and marine ecological activity. We also provided each school with a teaching resource pack and student education booklet, for use before and after their trips.

Building on the success of our 2013 and 2014 programmes, which saw 630 children taking part, some 800 young people participated in Coast Explorer 2015. A massive thank you to all involved!

P1 Marine Foundation was established as an international, UK registered charity in September 2010, with the aim of safeguarding and restoring the marine and coastal environment by raising awareness through education and effective partnerships.

Further information

Coast Explorer 

P1 Marine Foundation