Environmental Education at ETIV: helping students connect with and protect their planet
By Ava Korres
My primary focus here at ETIV as an environmental intern, is helping with environmental education and mangrove monitoring projects. During my first couple weeks at ETIV, students were on holidays, thus I didn’t have physical environmental education classes. Instead, I used this time to help with mangrove monitoring and create a curriculum for my environmental classes. My primary goal for these classes was to enact an environment where kids could have fun while developing a further connection to nature.
Student meditation in ETIV’s environmental education program
It is my belief that fostering a connection with nature allows one to better understand and care for the environment. If we are able to experience the magic of our Mother Earth, we are able to see the beauty and act as her protector instead of her destroyer. In my mind the human-nature relationship does not differ greatly from a human-human or human-animal relationship. Within the diverse ecosystems of the world, exist many living plant species that convert CO2 into oxygen and provide us with organic materials, providing both our soil and our bodies with nutrients. Our Mother Earth is our provider. She gives to us as our own mothers do. Nature is full of living organisms that respond to love and care. When we support and give love to Mother Earth, she bears delicious juicy fruits, and grows trees to play and climb in.
Ava enjoying time with nature, rain or shine!
If we don’t care for her and use pollutants, there are consequences that directly affect us. The waters become contaminated and humans become sick. Humans and their environment need to have a relationship. We can grow together, or collapse together. The choice is ours. This is why I believe fostering a relationship with nature, especially at a young age is extremely important. When kids are in their developmental years they can foster a connection with the planet that can last a lifetime and the children of the current generation need to learn how to treat and connect with the environment as climate change is already beginning to impact societies around the world.
A student working in ETIV’s garden
While creating my curriculum for my classes, I kept this goal in the forefront of my mind. Each of my classes begin with a game that takes place outdoors. Whether the game be cops and robbers, tag, or capture the flag. Allowing the kids to relieve some energy and have fun, while interacting with the natural world is a great step to build a connection and love for nature. After they are too tired to run any longer, we sit down for a simple meditation or breathing activity, once again calming their central nervous systems and allowing them to slow down, acknowledging their senses and the world around them. They listen to the natural and human world interacting together. Listening to the birds chirping amongst the voices of humans and engines of cars passing by. They smell the rain that sits on the grass from the storm the previous night, but also the scent of trash that lies in the streets. Paying attention to these human-nature interactions, creating a sense of how we work together now and how we can better work together in the future. After our time outside of ETIV, we return for our main activity of the day. Each class has a main focus, today we planted our own seedlings in re-used yogurt cups.
Students journaling during the seedling activity
Each kid chose a cup, poked holes in the bottom, in order to allow for the exchange of CO2 and oxygen, filled the cup with soil, planted their seeds, and finally added a touch more soil and water. After planting, each kid was given a journal for their plant where they are to keep progress on the plant’s growth, drawing pictures and/or writing brief observations. They each named their plants and took them home where they will place their newly planted seedlings in the windowsill to receive sunlight. Each child will water their plant daily, watching the seeds sprout and grow, as a parent watches after their child. The goal of this activity went along with my goal of fostering a connection to nature as each child was now responsible for the livelihood of their plants. Each of the kids were extremely excited for the activity and look forward to watch their plants grow.
A student proudly posing with his seedling