After almost 2 years of online teaching, we had the chance to organize an outdoor learning activity in a more extended school project dedicated to environmental protection. This project is named Plant a tree, love nature! and has more learning goals as follows: to raise awareness of the effects of environmental pollution and the risks associated with climate change, knowledge, and access to information related to local/regional climate, specific fauna, and vegetation, involvement of students in reforestation activities, especially in areas with high risks of landslides, floods, construction and installation of birdhouses and bird feeders, collecting soil, water, plant samples, and performing analyzes in school, in biology, chemistry, and physics laboratories, making an exhibition with photos, collages, drawings, short film, following the activities carried out, monitoring of reforested areas in order to observe the beneficial effects in soil consolidation, return of wild species, etc.
This first activity in this project was held on April 2nd, 2022, and was carried out in collaboration with the Pitesti Forest District. The students met a forestry engineer, Mr. Sorin Balas, who explained to them the importance of the forest in an ecosystem, and how they can help to keep the balance between human activity and nature. The students asked questions about the tree species, when they are planted, how they keep track of the planted trees, and how they decide the places where the trees are planted. Mr. Sorin Balas also talked about the history of Forestry science in our country and its predecessors amongst which notably is a woman, Mrs. Aurora Gruescu, the world’s first female foresty engineer, as well as the first Romanian person in the Guinness Book.
One goal was to raise awareness among the students about environmental issues, and how they can act to fight for a healthy environment. Observing nature, and paying attention to the interconnections between the ecosystem components like soil, water, air, plants, and animals on one side and humans on the other side is the starting point of the learning trail.
The students were instructed by the forestry workers on how to plant the seedlings.
The second part of the activity consisted in observing the plants and the animals in the forest. The students took photos and recorded the songs of the birds. By using different phone apps they recognized different species of plants as well as the birds in the place. The stroll into the forest was a wonderful way to enjoy the physical effort, the clean air, and the beauty of nature.
They recorded their observations in the project journals.
The feedback from the students was very positive. They appreciated the quality of the activities, and the satisfaction of a good job such as the preservation of the forest, the beauty of nature, and working together.
This activity was a great success after such a long period of isolation, after online and indoor activities. The students felt the joy of being together, being active, aware of what is around them, ready to learn and observe more, and decided to contribute actively to the fight against climate change and global warming.
Iuliana Roman, Physics teacher, National College Zinca Golescu Pitesti