Project Missions Bear Successful Results
Erasmus+ Eco-systems of Open Science Schooling Project, with Wittenborg as the project coordinator, is progressing impressively. During the last few months, partner schools have been actively working through their missions and have all borne successful results.
During the last virtual meeting held on 5 October, each of the four project practice partners (Lithuania, Romania, Poland and Turkey) presented the completion of their first project missions. The outcomes derived from project missions of all four partners were impressive and applaudable, as the missions not only enhanced the learning of science on the part of the students but also had a significant social impact on the general community and society. Below are snippets of project deliverance from the partner schools.
Project Lithuania: Bringing Back the Bees & Butterflies
For Pasvalys Levens Primary School (Pasvalio Levens Pagrindine Mokykla) in Lithuania, its project mission stems from a decline in bee and butterfly populations in the last 20 years, due to intensive agriculture, widespread use of pesticides and herbicides and climate change. The team managed to garner support from Darius Agro and ASEJA who provided seeds and other necessary materials for the setting up of bee and butterfly-friendly gardens in homes, schools and public parks in the Pasvalys area.
Through wide-scale promotion, farmers lent their support and started reducing the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides on their fields. In order to promote their mission and to increase community interest and involvement, the team carried out outdoor activities such as outdoor butterfly painting and drawing in their own and in neighbouring communities.
The team members commented, "We are proud that our mission is meaningful for the community and environment and we have developed connections with the community partners. The idea of attracting and preserving pollinators met with so much support that one of the grateful bee keepers, Vaidas Baliunas, awarded the team with 10 litres of honey. We are truly grateful to Erasmus+ Project for this opportunity and support."
Project Romania: Outdoor Education
For Gheorghe Titeica School in Romania, their mission was the promotion of outdoor schooling. The students participated in a national project contest called ‘School in Nature’ and became partners of ‘Life Education for All’, an association which initiated the campaign for outdoor education at national level.
The association helped to promote the project mission throughout the community and, as a result, the school received supplies in the form of bean bags, relaxing armchairs and mobile whiteboards for their usage until May 2022. Other partners that were in support of their initiative are the non-governmental Youth Communities Association (Association Comunitati Pentru Tineret) based in Craiova and Exchange Volunteer Service, who joined them in the outdoor English classes, workshops and activities in the Romanescu park.
The students commented, "We can say that our Mission 1 changed us a lot, brought us better collaboration, better communication and coordination in our groups, more creativity and developed our critical thinking. These partnerships, and eco-systems are really inspiring and we felt like active participants rather than passive actors in our personal development/learning process."
Project Turkey: Pet Therapy
For ITU ETA Foundation College in Turkey, an initial mission to investigate animal and human digestive system changed to a more passionate one: investigating therapy with animals. The team believed that animals have a way to heal the sick, comfort the depressed and provide affection to those who need it.
The team promoted the idea of having pets among students and it was so successful that students started sharing their experiences of their own pets. The team surveyed Firat university staff, animal hospital staff and experts, teachers, families, office workers and other community members to find out more about therapy with animals. Their pet survey revealed that having pets in the office helps reduce employee stress levels and leads to social and health benefits.
Their next mission is to partner with Firat University to investigate the effect of animals on the level of happiness in humans. Students commented that having this project, which stemmed from their own idea, has made school more interesting, as they learn not just by listening to teachers but by doing activities and being involved in the survey and visits to places.
Project Poland: Fossils & DNA
At Liceum Ogólnokształcące z Oddziałami Dwujęzycznymi im. Adama Mickiewicza in Poland, students participated in various activities, such as a DNA isolation workshop organised by BioCen (Biocentre of Scientific Education) and a lecture by a neurobiologist Prof. Krzysztof Turlejski from the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Sciences, UKSW, in Warsaw.
Study trips to Nasiłów, a Vistula ice-marginal valley, rich in fossils in the layers of chalk from 65 million years ago, and the Korzeniowy Gorge in Kazimierz Dolny, enhanced students’ knowledge and learning experiences. The school, with the cooperation of the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Sciences UKSW in Warsaw, also conducted an exhibition which displayed the collection of fossils.
The success of the projects as well as the positive impacts the projects have on the society at large were applauded by all partners.
More information about the individual schools’ activities can be found in the Open Science Schooling webpage at Eco Oss (eco-oss.eu).
By Hanna Abdelwahab with contributions from partner schools