Project of the University of Coimbra strengthens children’s connection with the ocean

In order to disseminate what Science knows about the Entremarés Rochosa zone so that its importance is better understood and its most respected and promoted conservation, the Center for Sea and Environment (Mare) of the Faculty of Sciences and Technology at the University of Coimbra (FCTUC) led to the basic schools “bLueTIDE – Ocean literacy for integrated and dynamic education”, a science education and communication project.

For two years, this project toured schools from north to south of Portugal and reached more than 500 students through various awareness actions, which intended to strengthen children’s connection with the ocean and motivate them to know and conserve the Entremagos rocky.

«Our perception was that students from the coastal schools and with Blue School awards generally had more prior knowledge about the ocean and, specifically, about the Rocky Zone, as well as a greater awareness of its importance. For the human being, regardless of the place of residence. However, the enthusiasm for learning and performing the proposed activities was identical in all schools», says Zara Teixeira, a researcher at Mare.

These actions carried out in 12 schools, also aimed to promote interaction between schools and sea science researchers, to stimulate cooperation between educational institutions with and without the “Blue School” award, but also to foster creativity, initiative, and ability in Student communication, as well as strengthen the teaching practices based on sea sciences and encourage the candidacy of new schools to the “Blue School” program, from the Ministry of Mar (Directorate-General of Sea Policy).

In general, the bLueTIDE project «allowed you to realize that both teachers and students value contact with researchers and that the availability of scientific information in the adapted language and in different formats from those commonly used in the classroom is an added value for all. Students gain greater motivation and interest and teachers gain greater confidence by addressing distinct and relevant themes for the future of their students. Investigators, on the other hand, see their work recognized and useful for society», says the FCTUC researcher.

«In this final stretch of the project, which ends in August, the researchers are preparing to launch a guide to activities for teachers interested in addressing this theme, intended essentially for the 1st cycle, as well as a book with curiosities about the Entremaré zone Rocky and tips for a fun and safe visit. Both materials will be in digital format and will be available in the summer», says Zara Teixeira.

It is expected with this project «that children and teachers become active agents in the conservation of these natural systems. Knowing its species and dynamics, and understanding its importance and how human beings are influenced and influence this habitat, we are ensuring that students can make informed decisions that contribute to ocean conservation», he concludes.

The bLueTIDE project, which was funded by the EEAGANTS worth 25,000 euros, was led by the Figueira da Figue Sea Incubator, had the scientific coordination of Mare researchers, and was attended by the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria and the University of Évora.

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