Uncovering the secrets of the Flow Country

27/03/2019 4:25pm by Sarah Fischbacher
Science festival title photo

examining peat

Did you know that the Flow Country can actually help the UK meet its climate targets? And what does sphagnum moss have to do with that? Caithness’ junior scientists investigated the secrets of the Flow Country peatlands in the education team’s school sessions during the Caithness International Science Festival 2019.

Learning about what makes up a healthy peatbog, the children discovered that the Flow Country peat is a huge carbon store and that they thus have a big asset in the fight against climate change just in front of their doorstep!

Sphagnum experiments

As sphagnum moss is key in the process of carbon storage, the pupils investigated some of its special properties, finding out how much water it can hold and experimenting with pH paper to test the sphagnum water for acidity. For sphagnum moss’ capacity to hold large amounts of water and create an acidic environment is essential for the formation of peat, which stores all the carbon.

how old would you be if you were peatThe children soon found out that peat formation takes a very long time. If peat accumulates at a rate of 1mm per year, how old would you be if you were peat? Our master mathematicians measured each other’s height and calculated their age if they had grown at the same rate as peat. Wow, could you possibly be more than 1500 years old?!

At the end of the session, the stage was opened for ‘MC Sphagnum’ & Co. and the children turned everything they had learned about sphagnum, peat, carbon storage and the Flow Country into raps and performed them for the class (beatboxing included, of course!).

Rapping about carbon storage

The Family Day at the end of the week rounded off the Science Festival and it was lovely having so many children visit the Flow Country stall and discover what makes this landscape so fascinating.

Science Festival Family Day