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Best outdoor practices for Ecosupporters in Kotka

Authors: Shauro Tatiana, Olga Senova
Center for Continuing Education of Palmenia held an international seminar in frames of the Gulf of Finland Year to Ecosupporters from Finland, Estonia and Russia. The seminar was held in the town of Kotka (Finland) from 10 to 11 June 2014 and was dedicated to the outdoor education best practices and mobile applications introduction to the educational process.

Best representatives of the “Step to Ecosupport” project (http://baltfriends.ru/ecopod_main) from Russia, Finland and Estonia traveled to the city of Kotka to gain new experience in the field of outdoor education and use of mobile applications.

During the seminar Ari Laine - representative of the Finnish state company Metsähallitus, which administers 12 million hectares of forests and water bodies, reported on the Gulf of Finland state. "Eutrophication reduces the biodiversity of invertebrates, which affects the entire ecosystem" - says Ari. In the Gulf, there is a significant number of invasive species, according to official data, more than 20 different species. There are some amazing finds, as Zebra mussel, which originally hails from Lake Baikal. One of the main problems is the loss of coastal areas. Particularly active this can be seen in St. Petersburg, although the problem exists in all the Gulf of Finland coastal cities.

Esko Kuittinen of the Palmenia Center presented 4 mobile applications that will help make the educational process more interactive.

1) QR Reader - application that can read and create special QR codes. You can encode any information - page address, images, videos, etc.
2) Socrative Student - an application where you can create your own online questionnaire. Student replies will come to you automatically and displayed in any convenient format (chart, numbers, etc.)
3) Nature Gate - mobile determinant of flora and fauna species
4) Hei Joe - in this application, you can create a map with marked objects. When the pupil reaches an object it gives you a list of questions or information about the place. The application can run offline.

Tiina Lecklin from the natural school Luontokoulu Haili and Anu Vainola from the University of Helsinki showed the best teaching practices in nature:

1) The Game "Photosynthesis" – on the individual cardboard pallets from apples or eggs you need to drawn a glucose molecule, several water molecules and carbon dioxide. In the H2O and CO2 molecules recesses you put icons associated with symbols. These molecules are laid out on the field and pallets with a glucose molecule distributed to each team. Children need to collect the molecules molecule of glucose from CO2 and H2O and calculate how much water and carbon dioxide required for the reaction, as well as how much oxygen is left.

2) Solar energy - cardboard box from chocolates wrapped in foil turns to solar oven, in which you can put chocolate or other sweets. As a result of the sun melted chocolate. Thus it is possible to demonstrate the power of solar energy.

3) Waterfront – clothesline divided by the meter you put perpendicular to the coast. Out of paper you make a long tape and draw a line on it with segments that correspond to the rope, but on a smaller scale. Glue plants on the drawn line. Thus, we can observe the coastal plant communities.

4) Bags on the tree - divide the children into groups. Every group has a rope, which each member of the group should hold so it will generate the team spirit. Write on pieces of paper the name of any object in the Baltic Sea region (city, river, etc.). On trees hang the bags, in which you put the names of countries. Leading person gives the paper with object name to the group and children need to find the appropriate country for each object. Those who found more matches win. This game can be used in all variations and on any topic.

Practices of outdoor education also exist in Russia. Program of Friends of the Baltic - “RiverWatch” (http://baltfriends.ru/rw_main) was created with the support of Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB). In frames of the program network of cooperation of school groups operates. They conduct research in the small rivers basins in the basin of the Gulf of Finland. More than 30 rivers, streams and lakes are under the supervision and protection of “River Watch” school groups. For teachers and youth leaders trainings are conducted on research methods, the annual youth Conference "Environmental monitoring of small rivers and the coast of the Gulf of Finland" , River Festivals.

For many years there is a Baltic Fund for Nature project “Baltic Nature Watch” - "Nature study of the Baltic Sea." During this time there were about 2,000 participants in the project, students from 88 schools, city additional education and the region.
The program conducts seminars for teachers on methods and techniques of teaching environmental knowledge and research, as well as a variety of flora and fauna of the Baltic region.

Seminar presentations:
The-Baltic-Sea-Environment-and-Ecology
Outdoor education Anu Väinölä
Mobile learning workshop Esko Kuittinen

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