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Prospective teachers learn how to teach students about climate change

The Maltese student delegation with their Norwegian counterparts celebrating the Norwegian Constitution Day.

The Maltese student delegation with their Norwegian counterparts celebrating the Norwegian Constitution Day.

As a follow-up to a visit that had taken place earlier in the year in Olomouc, Czech Republic, a group of six students studying for degrees in Bachelor of Education in Science and Masters in Sustainable Development at the University of Malta recently visited Trondheim, Norway, in the second part of Educhange, a project focused on issues related to climate change that is supported by the Erasmusplus programme.

Also taking part in the visit were other students and prospective teachers from the three other universities involved in the project: Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic; Utrecht University, the Netherlands, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.

The project provided the students with tools to reflect on the impacts of climate change by taking into consideration real-life examples that can be seen in Norway, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and even in Malta. It also helped them realise that climate change is a global issue that can be effectively resolved through collaborative actions that educate people, address solutions and implement them adequately.

The project shed light on the tangible impacts of climate change which the participants could observe and study through site-visits and fieldwork trips. They realised how place-based education leaves a huge impact on students and how this methodology, besides raising awareness, makes climate change issues relevant and consequently motivates learners to act.

Place-based education leaves a huge impact on students and this methodology, besides raising awareness, makes climate change issues relevant and consequently motivates learners to act

In Trondheim, the participants attended a ‘Science Jam’ which involved a series of interactive sessions, seminars, workshops, site visits and field trips spread over a period of five days. The sessions were coordinated by professors from each partner university and tackled issues such as climate change and water-related issues. However, the event was mainly aimed at providing the participants with an opportunity to discuss and evaluate the lessons they had carried out in their respective countries.

In the students’ first trip to the Czech Republic, the participants were tasked with planning a lesson about one of the topics discussed during the programme in Olomouc. The lesson plan was subsequently carried out in the students’ respective countries.

The Maltese participants’ lesson was an integrated science lesson focusing on ‘water footprints’ and was held at the St Therese Middle School Birkirkara. The lesson included several questions asking students to reflect on their own water footprints; Malta’s water footprint; and methods how water footprints can be decreased. The participants were surprised by the number of students who were not conscious of the fact that the manufacture of objects such as shoes, clothes and cars requires a large amount of water.

Another part of the lesson plan required the students to list a few food items they eat during breakfast time and consequently calculate the total amount of water they consumed. Once again, the activity was quite revealing and helped the students to reflect how their choices have an impact on their surroundings. At the end of the lesson, the students were asked to propose tangible solutions Malta can adopt to decrease its water footprint.

At the ‘Science Jam’ the students from all the universities presented their lessons as well as students’ reflections, ideas, opinions and suggestions. Through this experience, the participants observed how students from different countries react to global issues and how different methodologies can provide diverse learning opportunities. Each student group was later allowed to review their plans and upload their respective lessons in a compendium that will be available online on the project’s website.

This project made the participants aware of how they can make use of place-based learning experiences to promote action-oriented education for sustainable development.

The project was supported by the Erasmusplus programme.

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