The Environment through the eyes of the children

Translation by Emilia Asimacopoulou

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Within the framework of the Environmental Education in our school year 1999-2000, we dealt with the mechanism of erosion. However our students are going to tell you about this.  

Our objects were:
The comprehension of the role of aquatic currents as factor of the creation of erosion.
2.        The comprehension of the meanings erosion, decomposition.
The comprehension of the importance of vegetation but also that of roots as factors of protection of ground from the erosion.
 The comprehension of combined action of fire and pasturage as basic factors of soil erosion.
Contact of school with community, the development of initiative and encouragement in the discovery of knowledge with the energetic participation of students.
6.        The creation of atmosphere of friendship, collaboration and constructive discussion between schoolteachers and students and the encouragement of students in the team-work.
The practice in the free creative expression and the artistic work.

Our programme began in November 1999.

Then we sent in the houses of parents of our students that they would take part (5th class) a letter in which we asked your support so that we can help our children to be introduced slowly to the methodology and the content of environmental education and as active citizens to help later in the protection of the environment. We thank you for the correspondence that you showed. This reveals that still exist people who are sensitive to issues that concern nature.
When the students of Primary Schools deal with the environment they are re-orientated concerning the valuation of the environment. It can be those that will lead to the testing and development of new methods for the solution of problems that concern the process and distribution of information on environmental subjects as well as the active participation of citizens for the improvement of the environment and its protection. The Environmental Education by nature contains and embraces scientific, artistic, technological knowledge and various experiences. Also it includes in its quiver a variety of pedagogic principles and methodological approaches.


We are students of fifth class in the school year 1999-2000 and we were separated in two sections. One day of November our school teachers George Skountzis and George Pikeas after the ringing of the bell announced to us something important .Our mind began to think different things. Then we heard the important statement. We are told that we would participate in an environmental programme. This programme was called soil transport through aquatic currents or with simple words soil erosion everybody said one more subject?, More reading and exercises?. However it was proved that we misunderstood it. The course was proved to be like a game that offered us education. We learned about the importance of superficial soil for the life of plants and its impact on the life of not only the animals but mans generally.
We started by watching how soil is created by the decomposition of rocks that is their breaking into smaller pieces and their transport in another place by the energy of the air but also by water or it is created by remaining there where it was formed.
During our excursion in Taiyettos (both educational and recreational) we observed in practice the decomposition in nature.
We saw how smaller and smaller rocks formed from the bigger ones until soil was waiting for a mountain torrent to start its trip in winter. We noticed that there were no plants on mountain that didn't have any soil. We had seen an equivalent picture in class when we started our project.
Therefore we remembered that plants retain soil. In order to realize the importance of plants for the holding of soil we performed some experiments that you can see now being carried out, by our schoolmates.
We planted lentils and beans in two swallow flower-pots. In the first one we planted more seeds (densely planted area) and in the second less seeds (thinly planted area). Then we studied the importance of soil for the plants until they were grown.
When they grew at the point they are today, we filled another flower pot with soil (that was the soil without plants). We placed them sidelong so that we can have a mountainside. We poured one and a half litre water in the densely planted flower pot. We noticed that the quantity of soil that left was less than 10 cubic centimeters in 300 cubic centimeters of mixture.
We poured the same quantity of water in the other pot. There we noticed that the quantity of soil was more. In 300 c.c. the soil was 20 c.c.
Imagine our surprise when we saw the soil almost disappeared from the flower pot without plants. By pouring one day a half litre water, the quality of soil that left was 200c.c. in 300 c.c. of mixture.
The same thing happens in nature. However things are totally different there, because the power of water is bigger.

The next stage was to see the role that the roots of plants play for the retaining of soil.
Thus, we planted two deep flowerpots with the same plants and the same arrangement densely planted thinly planted. When they grew like these we have today, we opened three holes in the side of the pot, so that we can see how much soil can leave the internal part of the pot and not the surface. In this situation we also had a pot without plants. Even here the results were the same. Less soil left the densely planted pot. The results were disappointing for the pot with soil without plants. We also made our measurements here and we found the following results: in 300 c.c of mixture we had 5 c.c. soil for the densely planted pot, 10 c.c. for the thinly planted pot and 50 approximately c.c. for the soil without plants. Consequently we realized the importance of plants for the retaining of soil.
As our schoolmates said before, about the soil erosion, it is caused by the downgrading of forests, by the fires and the exceeding pasturage of burnt forests.
In order to examine the erosion as it happens in nature and to know which are the activities of the state to prevent this phenomenon, we visited the burnt forest of Foloi being helped by the forest inspection of Pyrgos, the chief forester of Pyrgos Mr. Sasalos and by the forester Mr. Barthis.
We visited the area Loukissa that is next to the beautiful village Pothos with Mr. Barthis. He told us about the dams that have been made along the torrents and keep being made in order to retain the fertile soil in the places it should be, after the fires that hit the area recently.
Mr. Barthis told us about the wooden barriers that are made where it is difficult for the big vehicles to have access and make others from cement.
We tried to make an equivalent manufacture at school, by forming a model of the burnt area but also of the area with fertile soil, something that you can see.

You can distinguish the cement barriers that are coloured grey, but also the wooden barrier of an inaccessible area. We can notice the effects of the water on the burnt area but also the flatness of the mountainside when the soil is fertile. Finally we end up at the sea where the brought matters are deposited and form the Delta of the river.
Then Mr. Sasalos was waiting for us in an area near the historical village Lala where they had made a reforestation and told us about the activities of the forest inspection for the upgrading of that specific area but also of other hit areas. We saw the trees that were planted and the hope that started raising up from the ashes.
The forest inspection however doesnt only care for the reforestations but also for our entertainment. They have made playgrounds and there are tables with splendid view to the plateau of Lala, near the historical place Pousi Ahladinis next to the monument of heroes. Everybody can go there and have fun like we did forgetting the troubles and the problems. As you can see in the photo, undeniable witness, there were many sheep and goats that were tasting the goodies of the forest.

We want to thank the people from the forest inspection that helped us to understand everything about erosion in practice in nature and to realize that there are still some that are interested in the rescue of the environment and are opposed to those who go against it.
A pleasant break during the working out of erosion was an imaginary visit to the lake Kerkini that is situated in North Greece in the prefecture of Seres. It is an artificial lake in river Strimonas, that was constructed to retain the water of the river during the winter period and by this way there is no erosion in the areas round it.
At the same time, a water biotope was created like that of Kotihi and it is protected by the RAMSAR treaty, having as a result to be a place where many different kinds of birds are gathered ﴾herons, silver pelicans, cormorans, eagles and others﴿. The Goulandri museum and the Hellenic Centre of Biotopes-Hydrotopes helped us to the imaginary approach to our lake.


At the end we would like to tell you:  

Nature calls everybody.
Lets approach it trying not to prevent its work..
Lets help the members of the state to do their duty.
Dont light a fire in the forest without a reason.
Visit the forest but dont litter.
Dont pollute our rivers and our lakes.
The farmers must follow the instructions that are given by the persons in charge. Not all pesticides are innocent.
Summertime is coming. Lets turn our eyes and our arms to the forest.

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5th Primary School of Pyrgos - parodos Labetiou street, 27100 Pyrgos Ilias, Greece (tel:06210-22932)