According to the Council Recommendation of 22 May 2018 (2018 / C 189/01), Member States should promote the acquisition of skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). However, international surveys such as the PISA or the OECD PIAAC indicate that a constantly high proportion of adolescents and adults have insufficient basic skills.
This project's main objective is not only to improve the scientific expertise of the teacher and the pupil, but also to provide an educational tool of high pedagogical value that is versatile and able to satisfy the requirements of the teacher. This requires not only stimulating the discussion of scientific topics, which are often difficult to convey in the classroom, but also encouraging schools to reinvigorate how they organise the teaching of the natural sciences, using inclusive and integrative didactic strategies to actively involve all pupils and to improve the quality of the lessons.
To achieve this goal, teaching aids have been prepared to help primary school teachers to design and implement Wild Gardens where pupils can experiment, observe, and become directly acquainted with the mechanisms that regulate natural ecosystems. The plants and animals in the small ecosystem of a Wild Garden achieve a balance similar to that found in nature: these living things carry out their lifecycles under the curious gaze of the young pupils, giving teachers the opportunity to make learning about the natural sciences more engaging.
The project foresees the development of four Intellectual Outputs:
1. The Wild Garden: publication with the aim of providing all useful information for the design and preparation of the wild garden, also thanks to the description of projects already developed in the world, even in schools. The responsible partner is Studio Naturalistico Hyla, Tuoro sul Trasimeno (Italy).
2.Teaching in the Wild Garden: manual for teachers: the text aims to provide a complete training to the teacher to better face the didactic activity in the Wild Garden. The volume is made up of two sections:
- Natural sciences in teaching.
- Pedagogy of nature.
The responsible partner is the University of Pitesti (Romania).
3. Educational tools for students and teachers: a practical guide and constant support for the teacher who uses the Wild garden as a didactic tool thanks to information sheets, workshop cards and interactive activities. The responsible partner is Studio Naturalistico Hyla, Tuoro sul Trasimeno (Italy).
4. Online course: The e-learning training course for teachers is made available on the Moodle platform, a virtual classroom for teachers who want to start a Wild Garden project with their class. The responsible partner is the University of Lodz (Poland).
As part of the project, the intellectual products produced in the first phase are subjected to a test by the partner schools, Istituto Comprensivo "Dalmazio Birago" (Tuoro sul Trasimeno, Italy) and "Alexandru Davila" school (Pitesti, Romania ). At the end of the experimentation, the products, in their final version, are made available to all schools who want to transform their garden into a real open-air classroom.
This project aims to create an educational tool that can facilitate the teaching and socialization of pupils. Beyond this, the Wild Garden project has the potential to have a 360° impact, galvanizing a sense of civic duty and respect for nature in general, and for public green spaces in particular, not only among pupils, but throughout the community as a whole. For this reason, the activities will be diffuse and on-going, encouraging the involvement of parents and local residents, eventually establishing international connections that will potentially evolve into a European network of best practice.