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Environmental satchels: an educational resource for school pupils

Barcelona, 12 February 2003

One of the objects of ”la Caixa” Foundation’s environmental satchels is to promote values which will encourage young people care for the environment. The satchels are the result of over ten years’ work aimed at bringing young people closer to their environment. Designed for use in fieldwork, the materials they contain are adapted for different ages, from 8 to 18 years. There are four different satchels, each devoted to activities on a different theme: the Green Line focuses on plants and animals, the Red Line on people’s relationship with the environment and the socio-economic issues deriving from this relationship, the Blue Line on water and, finally, the Yellow Line on rocks and soil.

Satchel contents and use
The environmental satchels are autonomous resources, that is, they are designed for use in the place of observation without the need for any other scientific instruments or teaching materials. They contain a variety of materials: recipients for samples, compasses, stopwatches, hygrometers, anemometers, pedometers, headphones, magnifying glasses, spectacles, binoculars, test tubes, canteens, etc.

Each satchel also contains a field notebook describing the tests the children can carry out, sheets for noting the results and a guidebook explaining how to do each activity, the material needed, aims and suggestions for additional activities.

Aims: prevention and acquiring values
The aim of this educational resource is to help the child or adult user relate to their physical environment. Users therefore do not merely observe, measure or describe situations or objects around them, but also understand the similarities and differences which bring us closer to or distance us from a particular environment as living beings. This enables users to discover the impact our presence may cause, and this discovery is one of the most useful results to be obtained from the whole experience.

The satchels provide materials and methods both for making scientific observation of the environment and for interpreting the data obtained. Interacting with the environment, the user studies the landscape and predicts its future evolution.

In the long term, this prediction can become another very useful outcome, encouraging prevention, an important element in environmental conservation. A seriously distorting factor, such as a fire or flooding, is imaginarily introduced into the environment studied, and the user must assess the consequences this change may cause in the future and decide what action could be taken to prevent them.

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