School kids on their way to solve the city's environmental problems

April, 23: youth conference Climate. Nature. Energy took place at Russian Geographical Society. It almost coincided with the Earth Day and Friends of the Baltic 15th anniversary.

The results of the city-wide Ecopatrol were presented there. Ecopatrol is an environmental grassroots monitoring project initiated by Sennoy Okrug municipality together with Friends of the Baltic. Last year only the schools of Sennoy okrug took part, this year more schools from St.Petersburg and suburbs became involved in this type of eco research.

As part of Ecopatrol 13 youth teams conducted basic research at schools and residential houses concerning the efficiency of resources and energy used in them. They also did observations of the environmental state of school yeards and those in residential areas. Along the way they had to fill out questionnaires, note positive and negative aspects of studied objects and were encouraged to suggest solutions to any found issues.

At the conference the kids presented the outcomes of their tours. Most problems that were mentioned are typical for our city. Among them are: old premises and equipment which enables energy losses; the use of old incandescent lightbulbs; piles of garbage and lack of separate waste collection; illegal car parkings that damage green areas, etc. But there are positive examples too: energy saving equipment at certain schools, well maintained inner yards, an alley of trees planted by alumni...

The solutions suggested by the participants ranged from specific local advice (to switch to energy efficient equipment, clean up the yard...) to global one (to raise global environmental awareness, to implement wind power generation in our region etc.)

In order to understand better how to implement such proposals in real life, the kids took part in a role-play game called "Green solutions for our city". Everybody was offered a project to develop, within one of 5 topics: energy efficient modernization of a school/residential house, developemnt of city biking, waste management and creation of a green area in the city. One team decided to make their school independent energy-wise. They wanted to set up a wind generator and produce their own energy. Another team developed an awareness-raising campaign on proper waste treatment. The participants were directed and consulted by experts in energy technology, business, investments, local authorities etc. During the game the kids were learning the skills of project work and came to understand that in order to make their dreams come true mere wishes aren't enough. First off, one has to be able to envisage specific results one wants to achieve. One has to think what kind of resources one might need and where they are found at. Furthermore, in case someone's help is needed (such as an investor or a producer), it is necessary to make that person interested in your cause, thus it is important to be able to "speak their language". We hope that with the help of that educational technique the kids understood better what to do in order for their ideas to come into reality.

As part of the conference a SPARE Energy and Environment award ceremony took place. Over 100 persons took part at the regional stage of the competition this year. Among the winning works of this year there are more practical works dealing with simple energy auditing of schools and houses. Obviously this topic is getting more popular and goes way beyond the Ecopatrol project. School kids find real examples of inefficient energy and resources use and think of ways to correct it.
Their environmental awareness is increasing and people think more often of practical ways to help the environment. We hope that kids will go further and will make their projects a reality.

Yandex citirovania