From Autumn 2018 to Autumn 2020, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia and Slovenia will be involved in the Hob’s Adventure - Hands-on Biodiversity project.
The participating teachers will collaborate to develop and share new methods to teach about biodiversity in a hands-on manner. The project aims to incorporate means that are available in all countries throughout the year such as potted plants, the flora in school yards and other signs of biodiversity in one’s immediate surrounding. The methods include the use of digital tools, to steer children clear of some of the negative effects stemming from the recent introduction of tablets, mobile phones and the internet into everyday life. The methods are also aimed to increase how physically active children can be during lessons and during breaks.’
Participants from all four countries with their unique challenges and solutions stand to gain from experience sharing and collaboration. Some of the participating countries face climate and environmental issues which make it challenging to teach about biodiversity. For example, Iceland and Estonia suffer from long winters which doesn’t allow you to take a group of children outside without preparation. The former has also suffered deforestation which has reduced its natural flora and fauna. Fortunately, this has led to the development of methods to overcome these difficulties that countries can share. The same goes for digital tools and physical activity.
People often miss connections between their actions and the global picture. For example, a reason to focus on potted plants is to illustrate how our habits of purchasing cut flowers for decoration and potted plants from shops is leading to the destruction of rainforests in the tropics. The rainforests are cleared to make way for fields that satisfy our demand for these plants. By allowing children to learn about the reproduction of potted plants by themselves, we can explain and demonstrate both complex global issues and to show a way to solve them.
These issues come up in various guises in our participant countries. For example, in Iceland, deforestation is fought by planting trees but there’s a lack of attention to the species selected. One would need to choose between native trees that fit into the ecosystem and foreign species that might yield greater wood output. Such choices are best made when information about the choices and the relevant values have been taught from a young age.
Hob’s Adventure aims to overcome challenges such as an overflow of information, alienation from nature, always online social interaction, lack of physical activity and many others. To find solutions to these problems and to combat related schoolchild depression, under-achievement and resulting elevated dropout rates, the project intends to motivate children to develop new skills and values for the modern world. These skills include the use of modern digital tools, hands-on learning to achieve an increase in outdoor and active learning periods for mostly sedentary children.
The project targets 5-9 year-old children and their teachers. We want to create a network of educational experts and teachers that can generate new methods and ideas for integrating hands-on and digital learning into lessons. They aim to create innovative learning materials that instruct teachers how to tie practical learning activities in the classroom and outside with digital learning and movement. The goal is use the materials to direct children to learn skills that improve their academic achievements, increase their interest in nature and the environment and teach them social skills and digital competences relevant to their age.
The project will introduce children to the following topics through the overarching theme of the biodiversity of potted plants and outdoor environments: global citizenship, reasonable consumption of goods, diversity in nature, the needs of plants and animals, health and welfare. These stem from United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The lesson plans are developed by teachers from participating kindergartens and schools, with support from their institution and the coordinating non-profit organization from each country. All lesson plans are developed with and tested on children taught by these same teachers, in frequent collaboration with parents and other relevant actors such as local experts.
Funding for development, international cooperation and dissemination of the handbook has been generously provided by Erasmus+.