- What is this section about?
This section consists of a specific method for Work-Based Learning to introduce the high-school students to the scientific career as aquatic environments expertise.
The main objective is to involve students in the topic of water management and conservation at European level (Directive 2000/60/EC “Water Framework Directive”, acronym WFD), creating a framework for chemical, physical, biological, geographical, morphological and hydrological analysis of aquatic environments.
This method will include procedures for river sampling, practical instructions to understand the data collected and instructions for construction and use of simple devices for water sampling (“Educational material for workshops”).
Moreover, the following FAQs will give some guidelines for the organization of the mobilities, to increase the quality of the experience for students.
- Which is the educational proposal of the project?
The workshops proposed have been chosen in relation to:
- their relevance to the Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000, “Water Framework Directive”, acronym “WFD”;
- the working skills needed in the field of aquatic environment monitoring.
The activities have been simplified to be explained and understood by the students and also to involve the development of some requested skills as environmental technician/researcher who deals with aquatic environments.
The workshops we performed within this project are listed in the table below, while some more details are given in “a_Topics”.
|Workshop proposed||Fish age determination|
|Chemical-physical parameters and water quality status||Birds monitoring|
|Basics on river hydrology||Biodiversity of the stream and surrounding area|
|Hydrometric properties of a large river||Primary succession of gravel bars|
|Hydromorphology and discharge regime||Is the water ecosystem healthy? The plant detectors|
|River dynamics and continuity||Ecosystem dynamics of the lowland river valley|
|River sediments||Ecological functionality|
|Speleology||Fish passages monitoring|
|Limnology and seston||Nature and science photography|
|Macroinvertebrate community||Augmented reality sandbox – topography|
|Visit the freshwater aquarium/fish identification||Valuable water resources in different countries|
|Fish community sampling (electrofishing)||Raising awareness and involvement on water as resource|
- Which is the knowledge, skills and competences required to participate to this project as a student?
To maximize the learning within the presented activities it is necessary that students have base knowledge in science subjects such as math, chemistry, physics, biology, ecology, geography. Moreover, if the activities are performed at international level (e.g. within an Erasmus+ project) some good English language skills are It is important to have a common standard, because students of the same age could have different preparation due to national school system.
The knowledge needed to face this Erasmus+ experience is resumed below; all these skills should be tested in the students’ selection process.
|Statistic||Mean, median, mode|
|Trigonometry||Sine and cosine|
|Chemistry||Water chemistry||pH, Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, Phosphates, Chlorides, hardness, alkalinity, Oxidisability|
|Physics||Water physics||Vectors, T°, gas dissolution, water discharge, water velocity, conductivity, Total Suspended Solid.|
|Biology||Biodiversity, Evolution, Bacteria, Algae, Plankton, Macroinvertebrate, Insects, Crustaceans, Molluscs, Amphibians, Reptiles, Fish, Birds, Mammals|
|Ecology||Food web, trophic roles, ecosystems|
|English language||Skills of written and verbal communication (speaking and listening); capacity to understand simple scientific explanations|
- How is organized the students’ preparation for the field activity?
Students should receive a general survey of the key concepts of ecology and aquatic biology. The material prepared (“b_preparatory lesson” and “c-Preparatory lesson”), common to all students and produced in English, is given them by the national mentors.
It will consist of:
- a presentation on the principles of river ecology and the environmental alterations generated by man (attached);
- a presentation dedicated to the WFD, the environmental indicators that it provides and the related monitoring activities (attached).
The material is presented within a 4-hour frontal lesson: the mentors’ goal was to involve the students into critical thinking. Mentors highlighted the difficulties met in the field while operating according standard monitoring methodologies, giving practical work examples not present in the theory books.
After the preparatory lesson the main concept were resumed in the welcome day of the first mobility, then a fast test is proposed to the students to ensure that all the key concepts were gotten.
According to the possibilities, some other functional activities to be proposed after the mobility are:
- field activities to prepare the students to the mobilities;
- preparation of the peer to peer education, undertaken by the hosting students.
- Which is the knowledge, the skills and the competences required for a mentor, to participate to a project similar to Wow?
In order to offer a satisfactory training proposal to the students it is necessary to ensure a team of professional figures, formed by a sufficient number of people. As far as mentors are concerned, each of the workshops proposed involves the use of 1-2 of them: the success of some deepening is favoured by the subdivision into different activities (and therefore sub-groups), thus requiring at least 2 mentors. According to the activities chosen and the competences of mentors, there will be required 4-8 professional figures working at the same time: within this project we used on average 7 of them for each campaign.
The qualification of the staff varies according to the activities proposed; in general, it is needed a degree in biology, natural sciences, environmental sciences and therefore professionals/researchers/professors of chemistry, biology, ecology, botany, zoology, ichthyology, limnology, geography, geology, geomorphology, hydrology. The subjects cited and the degree of education required of mentors implies that they are familiar with the English language. The minimum number of mentors required for the workshops proposed is listed in the table below.
|Chemical-physical parameters and water quality status||2||Birds monitoring||1|
|Basics on river hydrology||2||Biodiversity of the stream and surrounding area||1|
|Hydrometric properties of a large river||2||Primary succession of gravel bars||1|
|Hydro morphology and discharge regime||2||Is the water ecosystem healthy? The plant detectors||1|
|River dynamics and continuity||1||Ecosystem dynamics of the lowland river valley||1|
|River sediments||2||Ecological functionality||1|
|Speleology||1||Fish passages monitoring||1|
|Limnology and seston||1||Nature and science photography||1|
|Macroinvertebrate community||2||Augmented reality sandbox – topography||1|
|Visit the freshwater aquarium/fish identification||1||Valuable water resources in different countries||1|
|Fish community sampling (electrofishing)||2||Raising awareness and involvement on water as resource||1|
|Fish age determination||1|
6. Which are the facilities suggested for the field activity?
Even though the mobilities should be planned in spring or summer, it is possible that the weather would be bad or the temperatures would be low: this is the reason because it is necessary to foresee some indoor “B plans”.
The workshops have to be performed even with rain since the students should be properly dressed (see the equipment needed for them), but it is important that they are dry and warm at least at lunch. That is the reason why the sampling sites should be accurately chosen considering their proximity to suited indoor facilities.
In case of severe rain or storm, workshops will be performed indoor so it is necessary to foresee some educational material for a more “traditional” lesson. It is very important that these lessons differ as much as possible from the usual high school lessons: that is why we recommend the use of the “University lesson method” with slides and involving as much as possible students with questions and critical thinking issues.
- How to organize the mobility timetable?
It is desirable that the number of participating students be equal to 40 or not more than 50; the ideal duration of mobility is 5.5 days.
In the morning of the first day, in addition to the presentation of the project, of the hosting school, the greetings from the host organization and each of the partners; students were offered the didactic contents of the mobility, as well as a presentation of the study area, conducted by the students of the host country. In the afternoon of the first day it is useful to organize a guided tour to a site of interest.
The next three days are dedicated to field activities, which protocol can be based on dividing the students into 4 groups of about 12 students. Each of them followed one workshop (1 or 2 activities) for the duration of half a day. After the lunch break each group changed workshop: each student experience all the activities planned.
We chose to dedicate about 2 hours to each activity, so that it was possible to have a brief theoretical preparation on the proposed topics. If two workshops can be combined in half day, it is possible to increase the educational offer maintaining the optimal subdivision of 4 groups composed of about 10 students. At the same time a workshop can be divided into 2 activities: this leads to a further division in 2 sub-groups exchanging each other in the middle of the workshop.
We tested 2 approaches to data elaboration:
- we proceed with data elaboration only in the fifth day. The experience carried out suggested us to form couples of different nationalities and to use IT rooms. This subdivision “forced” student to speak English: they were guided to data processing and interpretation of the obtained results. When possible, data collected in the field were used for the processing phase, otherwise some real-like data were prepared by mentors to be elaborated by students.
- The second approach foresees a more complex work on the field, by which some simple elaborations were already performed there: this allows the students in the fifth day to be focused only on a simpler data elaboration and in the results presentation.
The final conclusions are made in the afternoon of the fifth day so that the last day is free.
- How to introduce students to the study area?
Firstly, the area of study is introduced by the table listed below, which was implemented by mentors. It should be submitted to the students before the mobility, to ensure the knowledge of the main features of the study area.
- What is happening at the end of each mobility/school year?
At the end of each mobility it is very important to synthetize and share the results obtained, to improve the quality of the next mobility and overall project in 2 ways:
- organizing a meeting (web call or similar) among partners or by producing a report on results obtained and difficulties faced, to be shared among them (”i_Mobility_Report_Example”);
- drafting educational material for students, which resumes the main elements to be remembered (“l_Final_Course_Pack”).