Nature and education – for elders and kids

April is finally reaching its last days. Why “finally”? It’s all about some challenges I encountered this month. 22.04 is a good trigger to launch a canonade of environmental actions since it’s International Mother Earth Day.

On Friday (21.04.17) I visited a elder day care house where I met with positive elders and children from a neighbouring nursery school. Nice? Yep, nice. But there’s a problem here. How to speak about nature, conservation and all the environmental issues when you have to face an audience of such different age groups? How to speak and be well understood? What should I talk about? I chose to take some hissing cockroaches with me and a breeding nest box for small birds. The meeting was successful. Both the kids and elders were interested in large insects crawling on hands of attendees as well as they listened to me explaining to them the problems of birds. We also discussed pros and cons of birds feeding and using the breeding nest boxes.

Secondly I drove to a certain school where I prepared a lesson about insects for a class of 7 yrs old students. I explained how to identify insects and distinguish them from other invertebrates, their role in ecosystems and in the last part I showed them some of my living insects.

After three days, on last Tuesday, I was the lecturer in a cinema (Cinema City in Zielona Góra, Poland) and elaborated on environmental issues for kids attending higher classes  of the primary school. We were dealing with situation of four endangered Polish animals – the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) and brown bear (Ursus arctos). Also I explained why species are facing extinction and what can we do to prevent it.

Day after that I visited a school in a small Polish town to continue our environmental meetings at class. This time I asked students (8 yrs old) to imagine that a A-4 sheet of paper is a large and beautiful forest. Secondly I asked them to think of one forest mammal and draw it wherever on paper. Then they had to divide the paper into two parts, then the fragment with an animal into two parts again and repeat that twice. Finally, I asked them to join the fragments into the original sheet of paper and I explained that the cutting lines are nothing more, nothing less than roads which are made by humans. This is how kids understood the essence of the habitat fragmentation and its impact on biodiversity. After that we focused on the biology of the red deers, roe-deers, elks and fallow deers, the difference between horns and antlers and some other stuff.

Probably today (27.04.2017)  was the most challenging educational day of April. The Cinema City, meant in the beginning, organised two environmental lectures for kids. On Tuesday and today. However, today was dedicated to children attending the nursery school and early classes of the primary school. Challenging? No? So imagine you have to elaborate on the issues you’ve seen for the first time two weeks earlier and your audience consists of ca. 250 uneasy, lively kids waiting for the movie which will be played after your work. Now challenging? I think so. But I did this. I suggested some major changes in the presentation file, think of some proper content and it went nice.

Now I will tell You this. To gain success I have been preparing for all of these days for weeks. I cannot afford myself to make mistakes, but more importantly to be incompetent. Much time spent on reading and thinking of the scenarios. Educators have to dedicate themselves to teaching others as well as learning. Constant learning.


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