Educating at the sea: when children do Ah!  - I woman

Andducare to the sea. THE Dolphins Guardians they go to discover the area together with Marevivo’s volunteers, make friends with the fishermen, analyze the waste on the shore, meet the men and women of the Navy and the Coast Guard. With the Reef Check project, by the non-profit organization Worldrise, the students who live near the beaches study what the sea gives back and it is not just plastic but algae, sponges, posidonia. The European network of Blue Schools connects distant institutions, exchanging ideas and materials. And in September, in Venice, the “lagoon nursery school” will start.

Educating to the sea, small steps forward

Sea education, and environmental education in general, is already available in several schools, thanks to passionate teachers and often thanks to associations that are able to offer free activities. Sure, the numbers are small but the situation could improve. Meanwhile, the teaching was included in the School Regeneration Plan of the Ministry of Education: «A beautiful and ambitious plan, which includes training activities with associations that support the ecological transition» says Maria Rapini, Marevivo’s national secretary, among the non-profit organizations involved. “Now the so-called Salvamare law has finally been approved, introducing the obligation of environmental education. But we have to wait for the implementing decrees to find out more and months will pass ». The picture is also favorable because in February article 9 of the Constitution was amended, with the introduction of “protection of the environment, biodiversity and ecosystems, also in the interest of future generations”. For once, you think about them.

Marevivo takes children to discover the sea. photo Valentina Fontanella.

“There is a strong focus on the issue on the part of young people, who not only want to get informed, but become protagonists and aware citizens” explains Francesca Santoro, program specialist of the Ioc (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission) Unesco. “L’ Ocean Literacy, i.e. ocean education, was born at the end of the twentieth century precisely to make it clear that only with awareness and collaboration will we be able to face the challenges that await us. The ocean is one and the responsibility for protection is collective, because everything is interconnected and what happens in the Pacific affects us ». To train the adults who will have to take care of the environment tomorrow, it is necessary to start when they are small and that is what the promises Kindergarten of the Lagoon project just presented by Prada and the Ioc Unescoas part of the Sea Beyond project, born in 2019 and financed with part of the revenues from the Prada collection in regenerated nylon: «We will start in September in Venice, then we will replicate in other cities. We will apply the principles of outdoor education, that is, outdoor education, because children need to experiment, observe shapes and colors, touch, smell »explains Francesca Santoro. “We will take them to the Lido, then they will continue in class, working between the outside and the inside.”

Educating at the sea: the menu for teachers

The activities of the Livorno Aquarium start from the nursery, and continue for adults and children both inside the structure, with workshops and guided tours – among the most popular are those on the “behind the scenes”, where you can explore the functioning of the tanks and of the plants – both outside, with boat trips for school groups among the Livorno ditches and webinars on recycling.

There are many initiatives for elementary school; in addition to the Guardian Dolphins, which involved about 15 thousand children from the smaller islands, we should mention # Batti5, which raises awareness on disposable plastic and reuse. Thanks to this project, the didactic circle of Neptune received the Blue School certification, of the European Commission and the European Ocean Coalition. In Italy, the non-profit organization Worldrise accompanies and supports schools that want to apply to be part of this network: Two schools in Golfo Aranci are awaiting a response for a project on the restoration of a Posidonia prairie and two hotel institutes that intend to train future chefs on sustainable fishing.

In addition to the commitment to the Blue Schools, the new projects just launched by Worldrise include Just Sea, the training program that allows teachers to create their own educational menu, one on the biodiversity of ports and Reef Check, on what the sea gives back . “The Mediterranean is a treasure trove of biodiversity, it should be treated with the care and attention we dedicate to museums and monuments, ”says Monica Previati, head of the educational projects of the non-profit organization. «We want to bring children to discover their beauty, stimulating their curiosity: few know the“ superpowers ”of starfish, there are some that have hundreds of arms! And what about the small and little known copepods? ”

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The comic created by a Portuguese school that won the first edition of the Sea Beyond project promoted by the Prada Group in collaboration with IOC-Unesco.

Still too much theory at school

Knowledge is the solution, “because you defend what you love, and you love what you know” says Maria Rapini. Adds Nando Boero, zoologist and president of the Dohrn Foundation: “Environmental education should make people say Ah! And not Oh! It should focus on knowledge, not surprise. 70 percent of the planet is covered by the ocean, yet we know little about it. We need to create a culture that takes into account the environment, and how we must take care of it ». The vulnus, in his opinion, is in the school system, which has too much a theoretical imprint. “If you take the children to a wood they are happy, they ask questions and remember the answers. In the Darwin-Dohrn museum, inaugurated in 2021 in Naples, the only one dedicated to marine biodiversity and to the evolution of life at sea, visitors take a journey through time, starting with the first forms of life three billion years ago. An experience that remains: only if we understand how ecosystems work can we deal with it. A task that belongs above all to young people, the protagonists of the transition ».

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