CresceRio, is a project of MARE – Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre in partnership with Marionet, which began in 2018 as a pilot project. It aimed to bring the school community (students, teachers, assistants, families) closer to the aquatic ecosystems present in Coimbra, showing the importance of streams in the proper functioning of the city and their preservation. Due to the enormous success of the 1st grade students, the project moved forward. Marionet and MARE are now supporting the second group, in the second edition of CresceRio.
Therefore, the children are the target group. Through field trips to Coimbra’s streams, lab visits, and the staging of the final show, the students are brought into contact with nature, which often wouldn’t exist, in order to understand it and persevere. Secondly, they are also artistically involved in this process and can reflect all the knowledge they have acquired later on.
The project started with a class from the Solum Elementary School and its main aims are: to introduce the school community to riverside ecosystems; to promote children’s contact with nature; to raise awareness of the biodiversity of urban streams and the causes of their degradation; to encourage contact with scientific activities related to the ecological assessment of rivers and to develop social responsibility for the preservation and restoration of urban streams and their ecosystems through the school community.
As mentioned above, this project started in 2018 with a first grade class at the time. Marionet and MARE accompanied these students for 4 years. During the first phase of the project, the class was accompanied by a MARE research group on field trips. Together with the researchers, the children collected water and vegetation samples from the riparian corridors of several urban streams that the class visited.
In a second phase, they started to analyse the samples in the laboratory, together with the researchers, comparing the properties of the water to understand if it was healthy or not.
The process culminated in the public presentation of the show River Stories, dealing with themes that the students had identified as key during their discovery and analysis of urban streams and their ecosystems. In the project’s final year, it was proposed that the class, together with Marionet’s artistic team, should think about the whole experience so far and create a show based on this premise.
The first rehearsals resulted in conversations regarding what was important to them in the subject they had developed during 3 years, what they thought about theatre, what character they liked to play, and more. From these conversations and this information, the Marionet team wrote the script and coordinated the rehearsals. The premiere was on the 30th of June 2022, River Stories was a show of 6 short stories about the importance of aquatic ecosystems in urban environments and how to preserve them. Due to the huge attendance we ended up restaging the show in two sessions on the 24th of September 2022.
Due to its social and artistic relevance, this project will continue with other classes, who will have the chance to acquire knowledge about the ecosystems that surround them and to deepen it through the creation of an artistic object.
The field trips for the class that participates in this second edition will start already during 2022. Marionet will follow the first phase of the field trips to aquatic streams and laboratories, in order to start working specifically with this class at the end of the 2022/2023 school year on the creation of a show with a date to be set.