Raising Soil Awareness among Austrian Pupils and Students
In order to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of soil, ASSS, the Austrian Soil Science Society developed concepts and materials for education and initiated a series of workshops introducing pupils to the beauty of soil. In the workshop “Boden macht Schule” a set of classroom activities for children between ages nine and thirteen was developed.
Fitting into a classroom situation and in order to involve each child in the activities, the workshop comprises four stations with hands-on activities. Key elements are observing and identifying soil animals, simple “scientific” experiments as well as rummaging around in the soil. The pupils are invited to use ‘all their senses’ and they touch, watch, smell and even
listen to soils during the workshop. The experiments are, for example:
- A filter experiment;
- Definition of texture by feel;
- Working with microscopes.
All along the kids are encouraged to carry out the tasks by themselves. At least 15 workshops are held each year in
Vienna and they have become popular among teachers and pupils. Another project is “Futuresoils”. Here the pupils learn about the relationship between their preferred food and the amount and size of soil needed to produce that food. The project
focuses on means to produce one’s own food in urban areas.
During the project the kids take care of a vertical bed and a hydroponic system and thereby learn to grow and harvest vegetables and herbs in and outside their classroom.. Pupils taking part in “Futuresoils” also visit companies and institutions where they met professionals like e.g. farmers, forest managers, soil scientists or lab technicians who all work with soil. The pupils had the possibility to interview these “role models” about their daily job reality and to learn more about their views on soil and soil protection.
Further activities encompass a regular “soil festival” at the premises of the Federal Research Centre for Forest, as well as the participation in events and presentations at the Vienna Zoo and regional thematic activities.
Further on, we offer special workshops for key person groups in environmental education and protection, like teachers, persons involved in environment protection etc. By using various attractive tools for environmental education in schools (centering on our workshops), we aim to increase the awareness about soil and soil protection among those who take and
will take (small and big) decisions. By providing educators with materials and tools to hold soil related lessons and workshops we hope for a broader outreach of the importance of healthy soils in society.
This initiative was organised by:
- Environment Agency Austria, Spittelauer Lände 5, 1090 Vienna, Austria;
- AGES - Austrian Agency for Health and Food Security, Spargelfeldstraße 191, 1220 Vienna, Austria;
- University of Natural Resources and Life Science, Peter Jordan-Straße 82, 1190 Vienna, Austria;
- BFW, Federal Research Center for Forest, Seckendorff-Gudent-Weg 8, 1131 Vienna, Austria;
- ASSS Peter-Jordan-Strasse 82, Vienna, Austria.