Exploratorium is focused on empowering and skill raising for school-children in terms of nature and environmental protection. The children due to the COVID crisis are home learning via online tools and do not have the opportunity to have outdoor activities, so we plan to organize outdoor education for them by presenting them our local flora and fauna, methods of nature protection, practical lessons and knowledge so they can become our ambassadors and take care of the environment in the future.
Our project idea will take place in Ludbreg region, north Croatia, which is a small rural area.
Ludbreg region is in a transition from a rural to an urban area and it is slowly losing its particularities which made us a distinctive rural community and by this project, we would like to educate school children of those particularities and enable them to transfer that knowledge in the community and be ambassadors for future generations. Due to the COVID crisis, children are spending their time indoors and we fear they will become technology-dependent, socially introverted and not connected with the community. So we would like to arrange an outdoor place for exploration, education, nature protection, put them in decision-making positions, strengthen their social and leadership skills so they can take on those roles in the future and transfer what they have learned to future generations.
By development of an outdoor exploratorium in an area of 4 hectares we will include all age groups, put a special emphasis on school children and the development of their abilities to be future local leaders. The children will be put in decision-making positions, develop plans for nature protection and community involvement, take care of animals, and be in charge of animals in the wild. By giving the children such responsibilities, they will learn how to be socially responsible, how to take care of the environment, and how to take decision-making roles in other situations. The children will engage the local community by organizing visits to the Exploratorium, presenting plant and animal life, producing educational content, and encourage others to do the same.
Our project is for the whole community and all age groups, but we will put a special focus on primary school children. The issue we are trying to solve is the alienation of school children from outdoor activities, negative aspects of online education that became obligatory in the COVID crisis which forced children to stay inside and learn only theoretical facts without outdoor practice. The children will be the main actors that will gather all other age groups around the Exploratorium, especially those that are excluded, like the elderly, minorities, and people with disabilities, so our social impact will be double; the children will take social roles and responsibilities which will make future leaders out of them and the community will have a new social infrastructure available.
The connection of partner organizations applying for this project came as an upgrade to the existing cooperation between the NGO and Town Ludbreg, so the NGO and Ludbreg will form a formal partnership via contract to ensure that all the activities will be implemented jointly. There will be 2 project managers, 1 from the NGO, Antun Novota, and 1 from Town Ludbreg, Petra Međimurec. They will be responsible for project implementation, dissemination, and organization of activities. All decisions will be made jointly, we will have work meetings and we will plan the project on a weekly basis to avoid or solve problems that may occur.
A year from now, we will have an equipped Exploratorium, an outdoor space for new ways of empowering children, space for special education for nature preservation, and a space where children will learn how to be future leaders of the community. We will succeed when we empower more than 30 children and teach them how to take care of the environment, how to take care of animal and plant life, and how to engage others to do the same, regardless of their age. The change will be visible in children's point of view regarding nature and environmental protection, their position in the community and by their ability to change and influence on local problems. And by the empowerment of children, we will positively influence their families, friends, acquaintances, aka the majority of our community.
Social responsibility, democracy, equality, community engagement, ways of nature and environmental protection and decision-making have to be learned from a young age so that the skills and abilities can only grow in time. And that is the main reason why our main target group are children, so we can show them how to work for the community, for others and for themselves in the future. And by setting such an example, we can encourage others to do the same and adapt our methods, which will ultimately strengthen their communities, increase social activity, civic engagement and enhance the level of social and other sorts of community participation.
It has been a long-desired idea of the local community, representatives, members of the Association and members of the local Municipality to establish a space equipped especially for children, space where they can grow as people and as future leaders of our community, a space where children can learn about our local nature, plant and animal particularities, and a space where they can have outdoor school and educational activities without cars, noise or other hindrances. And we named that space Exploratorium.
Our connection and mission behind the idea is to empower children, to show them the beauty of nature, to teach them how to protect it and encourage others to do the same.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
1. Benches, tables, boards = 2100€
2. Educational panel, projector, holding construction = 1000€
3. Wildlife animal recovery (buying animals, special feeders, food, water pots) = 2500€
4.Habitat restoration (buying plant and trees) = 2100€
5. Information tables for animal and plant life = 2100€
6. Arrangement of an educational walk path = 2000€
7. Development of an educational application for plant and animal life with QR codes = 2500€
8. Animal models with descriptions = 4000€
We would like to receive feedback on our idea, its relevance to other local and small communities, and how to improve it.