The scientific element of the project has helped students better understand the messages coming from their natural environment. It has also improved the students’ research and communication skills, and a sense of responsibility and appreciation for nature.
The project is a great opportunity for students to get to know partners of the same age from a different part of Europe. Learning about the culture and the values of each other, working, and doing activities with each other, staying with each other’s families, and learning the basics of each other’s mother tongue are all important objective to develop their personality.
In the photo above the participants form the name of the project.
Who are the participants?
The upper-secondary school Framhaldsskólinn í Austur-Skaftafellssýslu (about 200 students, founded in 1987) is situated on the south-east coast of Iceland, in the proximity of Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. The school is in the town Höfn (population 1800) and is 450 km away from the capital Reykjavík.
The town and the county are geographically rather isolated, the next village to the east is one hundred km away and the next to the southwest it two hundred km away. A large part of county is part of the national park Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður, which is the largest national park in Europe (about 12.800 square kilometers, about 13% of the area of the country). The main industry in the town is fishing and fish processing. Tourism is also very important for the county and has been growing substantially in the last years.
The school has been involved in several international student programs.
Vajda János Gimnázium(500 students aged 12-18) is a secondary grammar school (founded in 1772) in Keszthely (population: 20,000), situated by Lake Balaton in Zala County, about 180 km from Budapest, the capital city.
The area is characterized by a slightly declining population. People are typically employed in the tertiary sector, tourism, education, health. Keszthely is a center of education and it is famous for its cultural life (e.g. the oldest agricultural academy in Europe, a traditional cultural student festival, a baroque style palace and concert hall, and several museums). Tourism plays an important role because the town is the largest settlement around Lake Balaton, and because of the medicinal thermal lake of Hévíz just 10 km away. The Balaton Uplands National Park nearby is focusing on the conservation of the natural landscape, biodiversity and the traditional village architecture.
What is our story?
The Icelandic and Hungarian co-ordinators had taken part is a partnership a few years earlier, and encouraged by its success, they decided to work together again.
February 2013– planning and writing the application for the Comenius school partnership funding.
August - September 2013 – application approved, contracts signed. Creating a Facebook group for info exchange. Live video introductions. Starting the project website. Preparation for the Icelandic visit to Hungary.
October 15-27, 2013– study tour to Hungary. Getting to know each other, the town of Keszthely, the school. and the geothermal energy. Field trips, bird ringing, the Tihany Limnological Institiute, Balatonfüred, Kis-Balaton. Visiting the sights of Visegrád, Szentendre, and Budapest.
November 2013 -January 2014 – work continued and preparation for the trip to Iceland.
February 27 - March 11, 2014 – study tour to Iceland. Visiting classes, presentations by and to the students, various field trips to glaciers, fish processing plants, bird watching, taking part in team discussions and making joint presentations, student-parent meeting.
March 2014 – March 2015 – dissemination phase – various presentations by the students in different occasions, newspaper articles, radio and TV interviews. Project materials for the website. The evaluation questionnaire – each team member evaluated the project in an online questionnaire.
How did the teams work?
The two teams (11-11 students) communicated in English. They produced materials about various topics before the trips, and they had presentations during the visits. They worked together to discuss the issues related to climate change and their ideas how the problems could be solved.
Several of the presentations have been uploaded on the www.globe.fas.is website and they are free to use by everyone.
During the trips students were responsible to write an article about each day. These diary articles and some of the photos were then put on the website (see the ‘Study Tours – News’ pages)
The students were asked to evaluate the project as a whole, which can be seen in the Survey section of the website
Emphasis was placed on interdisciplinary nature of the project (collecting information in different discipline areas - writing presentations – giving presentations - communicate in a foreign language etc.)
The project was not only a Comenius but also an eTwinning co-operation and, as such the Hungarian team took part in the national eTwinning competition and represented the award winning project.
The approach to the project work can be summarized by the following
- Involve students actively into each phase of the project
- Set up activities that improve cooperative and project based learning, group work and critical thinking
- Invite each student to shape and add to the project website
- Motivate students to make their work visible on the Comenius and eTwinning web surfaces.
Working together and comparing their findings, and critically discuss their ideas, students have become better equipped with the knowledge and skills to adapt to the inevitable climate-related changes. As a result, they can actively contribute to preventing or minimizing the harmful effects. Passing on what they have learned the students will hopefully become ambassadors of a sense of respect for the nature and the sense of responsibility to care for it.
Katalin Fehérváryné Horváth