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Climate change has certainly been one of the most publicly debated subjects over the last few years. Countless articles have been written by the media, diverse campaigns, projects, groups and research institutes have been founded – all of them to promote environmental protection and to tackle global warming. The number of facts being published about this issue is growing all the time and yet schools and universities must still look to the media, the business world and charitable organisations for support in this area. The teachers attending this year’s Children’s Climate Day were obviously impressed by the many educational projects that were on offer.
On 01 July, 400 schoolchildren of varying ages made their way to SASE’s offices in Iserlohn to take part in a special event that gave them the opportunity to look more closely at the subjects of climate change and recycling. The association, ‘Klimaschutz durch Kreislaufwirtschaft e. V.’ [Recycling to prevent climate change], had succeeded in turning their idea of holding a Children’s Climate Day into reality in their very own city. The head of the association, Yvonne Busch, had called on all members to join in and present their educational projects as part of the NRW.KlimaTage2017 [NRW Climate Days]. The result was an enjoyable and interesting day for all, with a whole range of entertaining hands-on events for the children and a wide variety of information and teaching material for their teachers. A total of five classes (Years 3 to 6) spent the morning taking a close look at how waste collection vehicles work and playing educational games to learn more about how to segregate waste and save energy.
Children’s Climate Day was a fun, hands-on event that really got the children thinking about the environment
At present, very little time is dedicated to such subjects in school classrooms. One of the reasons for this is certainly because universities offering teacher training courses are not obliged to hold seminars on these topics. Whilst they are certainly pertinent to school subjects such as Geography, Biology, Politics and Social Studies, they are not a must. Private and non-profit educational institutes are, therefore, both an alternative and a motivator for those determining educational policies. The different German states have reacted very differently to each other. In Hessen, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, the government and charitable organisations are collaborating to help teachers learn more about environmental education; here, for example, the programme has been called “The courage to embrace sustainability”. It has, however, been taken up by less than five percent of all schools. KlimaExpo.NRW is without a doubt the most well-known project promoting environmental protection in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). It is calling on all institutions in NRW to present the ways they are attempting to curb global warming to a larger audience as well as to motivate others to join in. KlimaExpo.NRW would also like schools to play an active role here.
Which is why it decided to hold the NRW Climate Days for the first time this year – an event that also proved to be the perfect backdrop for organising the first ever Children’s Climate Day. Both members of the Klimaschutz durch Kreislaufwirtschaft e.V. and the KlimaExpo.NRW associations took part – including REMONDIS and its RECYCLING PROFESSIONALS, the recycling firm Lobbe from Iserlohn, the NRW Consumer Advice Centre and the educational :metabolon project from the Rhineland region. The RECYCLING PROFESSIONALS kicked off the day with their educational theatre show to get everyone in the right mood. The children then moved outside splitting up into groups and going from one tent to the next (six in all) every 30 minutes. The RECYCLING PROFESSIONALS’ offered its visitors a number of races as well as creativity and dexterity games. The Consumer Advice Centre organised various activities including a guessing game similar to one found on the kids’ German TV programme ‘1,2 or 3’ and Lobbe had brought along one of their waste collection vehicles for the children to look at.
A whole selection of stands were set up to teach the children about climate change – such as the Consumer Advice Centre’s stand here
The :metabolon project held a number of renewable energy experiments which the children were able to take part in. “It’s incredible just how fast the kids come up with a good environmental solution. Which is all the more reason for passing on our knowledge to them as quickly as possible. The earlier they learn, the quicker they’ll be able to come to grips with the situation in the future and become great ambassadors for all areas,” commented Monika Lichtinghagen-Wirths, managing director of :metabolon. This project is based in the town of Leppe where it has created an extracurricular place of learning that is unique across Europe and is still being supported by the European Union today. Built on an old landfill site, this centre offers a whole range of educational programmes promoting environmental technology. Research centres, educational centres for schoolchildren and students and an Energy Competence Center are all open to visitors. It is not, however, just about learning – a large section of the grounds has also been dedicated to leisure and recreational activities for those wishing to relax.
Many eyes lit up when they saw the waste collection vehicle – especially the boys’