Students at a school in County Durham knew when they arrived at Northumbrian Water’s sewage treatment works in Tudhoe that something didn’t quite smell right.
No, it wasn’t the natural aroma of thousands of litres of waste being treated every hour, it was the nasty whiff of murder as the site was transformed into a “crime scene” to inspire young people to get involved with STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths.
Over the course of two days, more than 100 year 10 and 11 students from The Oaks Secondary School, in Spennymoor, for pupils with learning difficulties and social communication issues, attended the site to help solve the “murder”.
The visit was part of a special week at the school, focusing on STEM activities. The activities form part of the students’ work towards their qualifications.
Northumbrian Water employees were interviewed, not only to help find the “killer”, but also to learn about the range of job roles that go into ensuring that the wastewater from homes and businesses in the area is treated and returned to the environment in the best possible quality.
Lee Davis, Assistant Headteacher at The Oaks, said: “Visiting a site like a sewage treatment works to see how things work is always interesting, but working with Northumbrian Water to transform the site into a fake crime scene and have the students solve a murder at the same made things really exciting and different.
“We’ve had a great time learning about the different STEM-related roles that go into making just one of Northumbrian Water’s sites work, and looking after the area’s waste, and also finding out ‘who dunnit’.”
Northumbrian Water’s Treatment Works Manager, Frank Errington, said: “We deal with a lot of unsavoury things at a sewage treatment works, but a murder is something very much out of the ordinary.
“The response to what we have to treat and how we do it is always entertaining when we have young people come to the site, but this was a great new dimension and I am sure these students will remember their visit for a long time to come.”
Anybody interested in learning more about careers in the water industry, and curriculum-base activities, can visit: https://www.nwl.co.uk/your-home/learn-about-water.aspx