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Family-friendly Nature Lab comes to the Sutton Bank National Park Centre

Identifying aquatic organismsIdentifying aquatic organisms

11 August 2021

Visitors to the Sutton Bank National Park Centre this summer can help decide the future of its interactive exhibition space by taking part in fun and family-friendly science projects. Participants can discover life under the microscope, move virtual mountains to investigate water flow and display their art in a pop-up wildlife gallery. Each task examines a different aspect of the River Rye, demonstrating its importance to the region.

Alex Cripps, Programme Manager for the Ryevitalise Landscape Partnership project at the North York Moors National Park Authority, said:

“Taking part in our Nature Lab will help us to plan a new, permanent exhibition about the River Rye, showing why it’s special and why we need to care for its landscape and wildlife. We can’t wait for families to test our exhibits, tell us what they most enjoy and submit their lab notes into our research post box before they leave.”

Sutton Bank Crafts by Brian Nicholson

Amongst the activities is an augmented reality sandbox, which enables visitors to model different landscapes and then make virtual rain to see where the water flows. Participants will be encouraged to think about why natural rivers are so important for wildlife and people, and how slowing the flow of water can help create beneficial habitats while reducing the impact of downstream flooding.

Also on display is the ever-popular mini Land Rover, with children asked to spot some River Rye wildlife to earn their Ranger licences. An arts and crafts table also invites families to get creative in the name of biodiversity.

Sutton Bank Land Rover by Dan Prince

The Ryevitalise Landscape Partnership is working with local communities, volunteers and land managers to restore and enhance the River Rye and its tributaries, as well as encouraging people to reconnect with the history, cultural heritage and wildlife of the area. The project is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, North York Moors National Park Authority and other partners.

Alongside Nature Lab, the Ryevitalise team are running three river-inspired events in August, with details as follows:

Sunday 15 August, Riverfly CSI - Get up close to aquatic minibeasties! Discover invertebrates such as mayfly and caddisfly under the microscope and learn more about their fascinating lifecycles.

Sunday 22 August, River Model Magic - Use a real-life model to design and make a river, complete with trees, farm animals and of course, water!

Monday 30 August, Bugs Rock! - Ryevitalise experts will be on hand to help children search for bugs, they can then create their very own rock bug to take home.

To find out more about the Ryevitalise project, please visit To discover more events in the North York Moors National Park this summer, please visit


Media contact

Nina Beadle, Communications Officer

North York Moors National Park Authority

01439 772577

The North York Moors National Park

The North York Moors is a beautiful landscape of stunning moorland, ancient woodland and historic sites. Created on 28 November 1952 it became Britain’s sixth national park. Covering an area of 554 square miles (1,436 square kilometres) the National Park has 26 miles of coastline, two national nature reserves, 840 Scheduled Monuments and over 3,000 listed buildings, attracting an estimated 8.3 million visitors a year

The National Park has two visitor centres, The Moors National Park Centre, Danby and Sutton Bank National Park Centre, providing opportunities for cycling, walking, eating, picnicking, shopping, crafts and wildlife-watching. The centre in Danby also houses the Inspired by… gallery, which features regularly changing exhibitions by artists who draw their inspiration from the North York Moors.

The North York Moors National Park Authority works with a wide variety of people to care for this beautiful corner of Yorkshire, providing apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities with nearly 14% of staff being apprentices from local families.

To view other press releases and for further information about the North York Moors National Park, visit