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Contributions to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

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Fernando J. Gonçalves, Ruth Pereira and Walter Leal Filho

This book presents essential learning approaches. It introduces educational and training activities, as well as various innovative methods aiming at the development of practical skills, in order to strengthen the continuous process of environmental education, and in particular the education for sustainable development (ESD). In doing so, it focuses on three dimensions (social, economic and environmental) as a means of achieving an effective change of behaviour and «tries to bridge the gap between science and environmental education by describing a set of projects, initiatives and field activities». A special emphasis is put on teacher training programmes, conception, and implementation, highlighting the problems and barriers, which prevent development as far as integration of sustainability issues in higher education is concerned.

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Chapter 6: Experimental Science Activities and Environmental Education: A pivotal bridge

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Chapter 6 Experimental Science Activities and Environmental Education: A pivotal bridge Sofia Marques, Ruth Pereira, Fernando Gonçalves Abstract The problem-solving activity described in this chapter began with a visit to a little stream flowing near the school. This place was already known by students and therefore it was the object of a more careful observation. After the visit, students used their notes to write a report. The students’ report revealed a striking fact – all of them believed that the stream was polluted. Their arguments were described, and polluting agents were identified. This preliminary field trip to the river allowed students to raise questions about the role of different freshwater species, and how these groups were affected by different anthropogenic activities (e.g. agriculture; physical disturbance of stream bed, etc.). Toxicity tests with freshwater molluscs were planned and performed by students to test the formulated hypothesis. The comments of students during the visit and their written reports formed the basis upon which a questionnaire was elaborated, focusing on environmental pollution. Students answered the questionnaire before and after the activities had been performed. Our purpose was to evaluate how the inquiry-based activity was successful in the acquisition of scientific knowledge. Students’ deep involvement during the different phases of the work indicated how important experimental activities are to science learning and how they can contribute to the development of skills among basic school students, such as critical thinking. Introduction The expression “experimental activity” is used to refer to a practical activity in which...

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