With a Backpack on the Trail

With a Backpack on the Trail

March – October 2019

Young children learn everything about the world around them through direct contact and this helps with a series of tasks: children want to care about nature when they see it not only in their textbooks’ pictures or on the Internet, but in real life; they get motivation to protect animals and plants.

During the lesson every child receives a backpack which contains all materials and instruments necessary for learning, and together with a coach sets off on a journey along an ecotrail in a natural park. While playing, led by a coach, in team or individually children broaden and deepen their knowledge about the world, learn to listen to the sounds of nature, carry out experiments with a handglass, a roulette, a compass, a weather detector, write down the results into a workbook, learn to use a map, to recognize the footprints of animals, to see healthy and sick plants, learns to love and protect the world around them. By the end of the lesson a participant receives a task to share the knowledge with peers and adults.

The main target audience of the project is children 7-15 years old, including children from low-income families and children without parents. These belong to vulnerable social groups which need additional attention. The lessons «With a Backpack on the Trail» allow to stimulate caring attitude to nature, to unite children in friendship during teamwork, to form an active life stance of a nature protector.

The project «With a Backpack on the Trail» is a winner of the contest of Presidential Grants Foundation in 2017. According to the plan in grant application, in 2018 we carried out lessons for more than 100 children.

In 2019 in the framework of the project we plan to hold lessons for 200 children with further upscaling.

Goals:

  • to increase children’s knowledge about the nature of their native region;
  • to stimulate careful attitude toward nature.

Targets:

  • expanding geography of the project: in addition to Botanic garden of Irkutsk State University and the Baikal State Nature Reserve we plan to carry out lessons on the territory of the «Great Baikal Trail» in Severobaikalsk (the Republic of Buryatia);
  • working out additional methodological materials for the coaches and the map of routes;
  • working out a schedule for the lessons, arranging the number of groups with the organizations and representatives of children’s groups;
  • carrying out lessons for at least 200 children in 2019;
  • developing cooperation with schools in the framework of summer camps and increasing the number of participants up to 500 people in 3 years.

What has been done:

  • we made 100 sets of workbooks and purchased the filling of 50 backpacks;
  • methodological materials for the coaches, workbooks and the map of the route were worked out in partnership with Association «Great Baikal Trail» which creates the national system of ecotrails since 1997 and knows all conditions and limitations of responsible tourism in the Baikal region;
  • we scheduled the lessons and confirmed the number of groups;
  • we conducted 9 lessons for more than 100 children aged 7 to 15.

Results:

  • in June-July 2018 we conducted 9 lessons for 132 children and teenagers aged from 7 to 15. First lessons took place in Botanic garden of Irkutsk State University and in Baikal State Nature Reserve. The students were children in ward of charitable foundations and other organizations: Center for Assistance for Children Without Parental Care, foundations «Obereg» and «Children of the Baikal», Irkutsk Railways club «Ecolyata», mountaineering camp for children «Angasolka». The prime attention was given to collaboration with the organizations working with vulnerable groups of children;
  • during the lessons with the help of the instruments from the backpack children deepened their knowledge of nature of their native region. They learned how to get bearings with a compass, learned the forest rules and tried to identify birds’ and animals’ sounds and trees’ smell with eyes closed. All discoveries were recorded in workbooks which the students kept after that mini-hike. Each child also got a colorful book «The Baikal. Crystal Wonder of Our Planet» by Alexander Tkachenko, which will become a memory about wonderful time of the hike and will also make children think once again about the necessity of careful attitude to nature of their native region;
  • we received feedbacks from the institutions which took part in the project. All partners of Lake Baikal Foundation highly evaluated the content of the lesson, its format, level of organization and they expressed their willingness for further cooperation;
  • the wards of Center for Assistance for Children Without Parental Care, Sverdlov District, Irkutsk, sent their pictures of the lessons they attended to the Foundation. Kids of different ages – from 9 to 16 – shared their impressions and emotions about the outdoor classes. The children paintes what they saw, learnt and perceived thanks to the project: there are the Baikal pines, woodland birds, sunset and mountains of the Baikal region. It is extremely important that kids saw the beautifulness of the Baikal nature and learnt how to preserve it;
  • the project «With a Backpack on the Trail» became the winner of the competition «The National Environmental Prize named after V.I. Vernadsky» in 2018 in the nomination «Environmental education for sustainable development».

The project is implemented with the support of  Presidential Grants Foundation

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