It was in 2018 that CresceRio Project was started with a 1st year class of Basic Education at Escola EB1 da Solum. This was, at the time, a pilot project that aimed to bring the school community (students, teachers, assistants, families) closer to the aquatic ecosystems present in the city of Coimbra, highlighting the importance of streams in the proper functioning of the city and their preservation.
During this project’s first year, the children were in direct contact with several streams in the district of Coimbra – Nossa Senhora de Tábuas’ stream, in Serra da Lousã, Vale das Flores’ stream, Exploratório’s stream, Fornos’ stream and Coselhas’ stream. Marionet went along with these outings, where children observed invertebrates, algae, amphibians, birds and also typical plants of the riparian corridors of these streams.
At the beginning of 2019, the classrooms were turned into laboratories, where children identified aquatic invertebrates and microalgae under the microscope. They also compared the ecological quality of the urban stream of Vale das Flores with the stream of Serra da Lousã.
At the end of this phase, a questionnaire was made (to the children and their guardians) to assess the impact of these field trips on their perception of urban aquatic ecosystems. Later, a study about these field trips was launched with the results of the questionnaires, where the children’s path was analysed, based on their experiences before and after the visits to the streams and the laboratory classes. The study concluded that it takes time “for the results to manifest and to have a lasting benefit, as opposed to occasional awareness actions. We demonstrated the effect of children’s regular contact with nature. Not only do they gain sensitivity that allows them to distinguish what is good and what is bad in aquatic ecosystems, thus contributing to their preservation, but they also lose the fear of contact with the animals, the water and the land they demonstrated at the beginning, bringing from nature”, as stated by Maria João Feio, one of the authors of the study and creator of the CresceRio Project.
During the years 2020 and 2021, the exhibition that gathered the data collected on the outings circulated through all the schools of Agrupamento Eugénio de Castro, in Coimbra, making known to the rest of the school community the discoveries made by the students of the pilot class.
The journey of these children in the CresceRio project ends this year, 2022, with the show “Histórias do Rio (River Stories)”, a production by Marionet, where we tried to understand what aspects had been the most important for these students. From these testimonies were created six fantastic tales that crossed the imagination with themes such as: river pollution, the importance of aquatic biodiversity in urban environments and the very dimension that these aquatic systems have on the development and well-being of cities. This show also aimed to rethink the relation of the community to these natural systems that are so fundamental in a city.
We have questionnaires available to assess the impact on the public of the show, about this way of communicating science through the arts. To access these questionnaires, it is only necessary to contact Marionet by email or by private message on social networks (contacts below).
There is still hope to bring this show on stage again. Soon we will announce the date and location.
This Marionet’s project, in partnership with MARE – Centro de Ciências do Mar e do Ambiente, aims to raise awareness of riverine ecosystems and their importance for the cities, promoting their regeneration.