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A summary of Nature’s Classroom project results.

Video and photo reports, panoramic images, round tables

Summer School: Establishing an Ecoremediation Course in Čatež
A trip to outdoor learning courses: project presentation
Permaculture zone: Building a Yurt
Early spring at the ERM course in Modraže
Učne table v Občini Zreče (available in Slovene only)
The Deaf and Hard of Hearing from Maribor at the ERM Course in Modraže
Okoljske škode (okrogla miza) (available in Slovene only)
Permacultural zone Dole: planting the first trees
Opening of the Nature Development Centre Poljčane
Municipality of Poljčane and the Nature Development Centre
Municipal Waste in the Municipality of Poljčane
Predstavitev projekta na občini Sv. Trojica (available in Slovene only)
Outdoor learning exercises of UM FoA students at the ERM learning course in Modraže
Autumn Activities at the ERM course in Modraže
Re-Use Centre in Rogaška Slatina
Initial Construction of the Learning Course in Dobrovce

Presentations of Partners (video)

University of Maribor, Faculty of Arts
Energy Agency for Podravje – Institute for Sustainable Energy use
Development Agency Kozjansko
Institute for Development and Improvement of Infrastructure and the Social Environment RISO

Educational trails

Boč forest educational trail
Quarries in the Bela valley educational trail
The subterranean treasures of Haloze
Ličenca Ecosystem educational trail
Educational trail among treasures of the trees
Educational trail through the Dravinja valley
Educational trail through the valley of freshwater crabs
Convent educational trail
Learning point on bees, herbs and their products

Educational and promotional materials (Slovene only)

Osnutki strokovnih podlag 2011

Vzpostavitev ekosistemskih tehnologij za izobraževanje v naravi in učnih opazovališč (Limnos)
Raziskave z namenom izobraževanja za vodne ekosisteme (UM FF)
Vzpostavitev Izobraževalnega centra o stoječih vodah – Sveta Trojica (RISO)
Trajnostno gospodarjenje z odpadki na projektnem območju (RA Kozjansko)

Učni programi za inovativno učenje v naravi

Učni program za raziskovanje v učilnici v naravi za 1. triado
Učni program za učenje v naravi za osnovne šole
Učni program za praktični pouk naravovarstva v učilnici v naravi
Učni program za praktični pouk na ERM poligonu

Učna gradiva za inovativno učenje v naravi

Tematske učne poti po Dravinjski dolini
Izobraževalni poligon o ekoremediacijah v Modražah

Strokovne podlage

Strokovne podlage učnih poti
Učne table

Primeri dobrih praks in aktivnosti za raziskovanje, učenje in poučevanje v učilnici v naravi

Ekosistemi – življenjska okolja
Rastline in živali v ekosistemih
Živalski svet Dravinjske doline
Voda vir življenja
Spoznajmo prsti
Vremensko dogajanje v naravi in toplota
Voda in delovanje v pokrajini
Ekoremediacije – terensko delo
Učne poti in vodenje v naravi
Dejavnosti v prostoru
Na sprehodu ob potoku
Zasnova učne poti Spoznajmo prsti

Problemske naloge Učilnice v naravi za osnovne šole

Biološka pestrost
Življenjsko okolje
Tekoče in stoječe vode
Biološa pestrost mlake
Skrbimo za čisto okolje

Problemske naloge Učilnice v naravi za praktični pouk

Ekološka kmetija in trajnostni razvoj
Gozdna učna pot
Kemijska analiza vode
Lesna biomasa
Načrtovanje prostora z umestitvijo rastlinske čistilne naprave
Natura 2000
Propadanje gozda
Rastlinska čistilna naprava
Zelišča na ekološki kmetiji
Spoznajmo tla in analize prsti

Social networks

Nature’s Classroom @ Facebook
Nature’s Classroom @ Twitter
Nature’s Classroom @ Vimeo
Nature’s Classroom @ Flicker


Promotional film Nature’s Classroom 2009

The amounts of municipal waste are growing, which is becoming a serious problem in a number of local communities. We went to Poljčane to tape a report and see how successful municipal waste collection is and how disposing waste into containers at ecology points for separated collection of waste is going. Dr Janja Klinčar from the Environmental Research institute Slovenske Konjice showed us a new system for separated waste collection, which is supposed to start operating in Poljčane next year.

Video report

Video transcript

In Slovenia and, comparatively, in the project area of the Municipality of Poljčane, on average 451 kg of municipal waste was produced per capita in 2009, meaning 1.2 kg per capita per day. Statistical data shows that the amounts of municipal waste are increasing and that it is becoming a problem for a number of local communities. In the Municipality of Poljčane they have therefore initiated a project of “minimising municipal waste and informing the public”. The current system of waste separation is designed so that mixed municipal waste is collected from households and that “eco islands” for separated waste collection are set up.

Dr. Janja Klinčar, Environmental Research Institute Slovenske Konjice: However, our observations show that these eco islands are overflowing and that the waste isn’t properly separated. If we look at an actual example –containers for paper and packaging are missing here. We see that the bin reserved for glass is full with packaging waste, no trace of glass, while the bin for other types of waste is mostly filled with glass.

That is why an upgrade of this system is being planned, a source-point separation of municipal waste packaging in households through the “yellow bag” system (door-to-door), which is supposed to be implemented in the Municipality of Poljčane at the end of April or at the beginning of May next year.

Dr. Janja Klinčar, Environmental Research Institute Slovenske Konjice: This means that each household will be equipped with bags or bins – depending on the arrangement – for separating all waste packaging. Past experience shows that people respond well because they are aware that the current situation is not good and that something has to be done.

Survey: It wouldn’t be bad if people would separate waste. I also do it. Not everything goes into the same bin. – I believe it’s the right way, because I already separate waste. I carry it to the island, which is far from my home, but I do it regularly, twice a week. – We’ve been separating everything for a long time and helping to preserve the environment.

The Municipality of Poljčane expects a reduction of mixed municipal waste mass by 35 % and an increase in recycling by 50 %. At the same time it wants to reduce the waste handling costs and raise the level of public information and environmental awareness.

Objavil Editor,
Categories: Other, Poljčane | 6,462 comments

The Re-Use Centre is located at the Collection Centre Tuncovec in the vicinity of Rogaška Slatina. It is intended for renovation, restoration, dismantling and preparation of the still-useful products for re-use. At the Centre you can turn in old items (for example furniture), which would otherwise be thrown away. Employees (the centre trains and employs unemployed persons from vulnerable target groups) will examine, repair and rebuild them for further sale at a symbolic price. Should you be interested in purchasing them, you can view the selection of the Re-Use Centre at the Collection Centre Tuncovec.

You can find additional information about the Re-Use Centre on the Technology Centre for Applied Ecology homepage.

Video Report – Abandoned Furniture Finds a New Home

Video transcript

The Pastirk family from the Slovenske Konjice area found themselves with some unwanted furniture that they wanted to throw away: a massive wooden table, a dresser, a footstool and two chairs.

Miro Pastirk, used furniture donor: I appreciate antiques, but my wife wants some new furniture. It would be a waste throwing this away.

He decided to call the Re-Use Centre in Rogaška Slatina, where they were glad to receive such a donation.

Marinka Vovk, Director of the Technology Centre for Applied Ecology: Re-use – the word itself implies that it pertains to products that were intended to be thrown away. But because today we have enormous quantities various still useful items, they are all too often deposited at waste collection points. Our idea was to create something innovative. We wanted to re-route the flow of used furniture and equipment, which we cannot call junk, as we know it isn’t. The items we receive are restored and certain details are added, especially those that stimulate thinking and creativity, resulting in fully functional items.

Miro Pastirk, used furniture donor: They will not be forgotten. They will fix them up real nice, so someone else can have them in the future. I have no more use for them.

Mr. Miro handed the furniture over to the employees at the collection centre, who brought it to their workshop. Here, they first assess the condition of the donated items.

Marinka Vovk, Director of the Technology Centre for Applied Ecology: First we assess what to do with them, how much repair is required, what must be additionally purchased, etc. Sometimes all you need to do is wipe the dust away and the item is already functional.

Franc Križan, employee at the Re-Use Centre: This table is 80 to 100 years old and is in a really bad shape. However, I will fix it, make it like new again. We are going to shave this, leach it and apply two or three layers of varnish, as many as required.

The three workers will require almost a week to do that. In addition to conserving resources, the purpose of the Re-Use Centre is to create new jobs. Currently, they are employing four hard-to-place workers.

Marinka Vovk, Director of the Technology Centre for Applied Ecology: Meaning those, who lost their jobs for various reasons. They are older than 50 years or younger than 25, with basic or no education and with very slim chances of getting a job. However, they are motivated, they like to work and they are reliable. They basically comprise our two target groups.

When the furniture is restored, it is brought to the sales department.

Marinka Vovk, Director of the Technology Centre for Applied Ecology: Then the head of the department sets the price based on how much additional material and man-hours had to be invested, so the prices are linked to our operative costs. The prices are otherwise symbolic as our aim is not to sell at market price, but at a symbolic one.

In addition, every product has its own green price.

Marinka Vovk, Director of the Technology Centre for Applied Ecology: We calculate and display how much water is saved because this product isn’t made out of new materials, how much less energy and CO2 was used because it wasn’t transported here from China, for example.

Mr. Miro’s furniture is now waiting for a new owner. But not for long.

Milena Rozman, used furniture aficionado: They’re very well preserved, especially the table and chairs, as is the footstool. But the most important thing is that they remind me of my youth. My husband and I need some furniture. We heard about this centre and when I came here I found that they have some nice and useful items at budget prices. In addition, I am ecologically aware.

So Mrs. Milena took home with her a quaint table, a dresser, two chairs, and a footstool. As she says, primarily for her pleasure. But the items will have a new purpose as well.

Milena Rozman, used furniture aficionado: This can be used as an office table or a computer table. It doesn’t have to be a new one from the shop. It’s very interesting and I like it better than new furniture.

Other buyers are also excited about the products found at the Re-Use Centre.

Marinka Vovk, Director of the Technology Centre for Applied Ecology: Occasionally we almost run out of everything. This also shows that people today don’t have enough money to shop in expensive shopping centres. The equipment sold here might not be new, but is quality equipment; there’s nothing here that would be damaged or non-functional.

Across Europe, such centres are well known, quite common and popular. Initially they were unsure of what response to expect in Slovenia, but they were pleasantly surprised. The buyers are coming back for a number of reasons, not just due to low prices.

Milena Rozman, used furniture aficionado: Absolutely. We live in the vicinity, they have interesting things for sale and the employees are friendly and helpful, so I feel very good there.

They want to extend the network of collection centres across the whole state. In the near future they are planning to open another centre in Poljčane.

Objavil Editor,
Categories: Video report | 9,295 comments

Students of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Maribor are currently carrying out outdoor learning activities under the leadership of their mentor Ana Vovk Korže at the ERM learning course in Modraže. We visited them and made sure that outdoor experiential learning is the right approach to teaching the young.

Video transcript

What do oxbow lakes, accumulation lakes and drainage ditches look like? That and more was explored by geography students of the Maribor Faculty of Arts, who have, for a time, swapped their lecture rooms for the outdoors.

Amadeja, student: Many of us know the theory, but can’t explain certain phenomena or processes in practice. This way you remember much more and get to see firsthand what is otherwise merely written on paper.

That is why a learning course was designed in Modraže with 24 educational environments featuring natural ecosystems, presentations of their operation, functions and their importance for mankind.

Ana Vovk Korže, Head of the Nature’s Classroom project: The learning course is an area of about eight hectares; we’re currently using 3 hectares, where we are showing new approaches to solving current problems like cleaning wastewater, stopping erosion, increasing biomass, use of phytoremediation plants for cleaning the soil … We are solving current problems in new ways – without chemistry, without electricity, merely with new knowledge. Users here share a direct experience, one they can participate in.

Educational institutions are well aware that classic teaching methods in classrooms are not enough. Students need outdoor experience to easier understand certain processes and phenomena.

Ana Vovk Korže, Head of the Nature’s Classroom project: We had an immediate positive reaction from the schools and from the Ministry of Education and sport as well; we were included in their curricula and courses, so everything here is now a part of mandatory study contents.

The learning course, which also comes with a neat classroom, was recently visited by geography students. First they studied the theory, which is essential, and then they went to see firsthand what they had learned.

Ana Vovk Korže, Head of the Nature’s Classroom project: Today we learned about identifying environmental factors, which we can, of course, identify here, where we can feel them, walk around, smell, through hearing we can sense the sound of water, the rustling of trees …

Amadeja, student: What we experienced most today was how much moisture and water the soil can soak up and what such saturation means, because many of us slipped when we were walking through the forest. Those living in cities have no idea what happens when a certain coating forms on the soil or on the ground in the forest.

We checked how much the students have actually learned. What is this thing behind us?

Matej, student: Here we see a pond; above, there are three pools where water is being purified. I think we’ve learned many new things. Before, it was all theory, no practice, no outdoor experience. My knowledge of these things is now much better than before.

Ana Vovk Korže, Head of the Nature’s Classroom project: Students are really excited. I designed the whole programme with their help. We’ll be coming here this whole semester; we have reserved our Fridays for this. I gave them the choice – one half here, one half in the classroom, but they decided they wanted to do everything here.

Considering that students are ready to sacrifice their free time to extend the lecture time spent learning outdoors, such way of acquiring knowledge must really agree with them. How will it help them in doing their future job?

Ivo, student: In a few years I see myself as a professor. I’d also like to encourage younger people and students to live in symbiosis with the nature, to help preserve it in its natural state.

Objavil Editor,
Categories: Poljčane, Učni poligon Modraže, Video report | 9,237 comments

The Ličenca Ecosystem educational trail follows the valley of the Ličenca creek between the fish ponds Štepihovec and Štatenberšek, near the small settlement of Sveti Jernej pri Ločah.

The path crosses the Natura 2000 area and includes preserved extensive wetlands over 2700 hectares of Dravinjske gorice. In addition to the Ličenca valley located to the northeast of Poljčane, there are number of smaller creeks flowing through the wet and well-preserved meadows among the settlements of Ličenca, Žabjek and Cigonca.

The uniform complex of the area also includes preserved remains of oak tree flood forests in Cigonca, representing one of the last remains of these, once extensive, forests in Slovenia.

Objavil Editor,
Categories: Ličenca Ecosystem educational trail, Pano report | 8,857 comments

Things are lively at the Ecoremediation Course in Modraže even when no education activities are taking place there at this time. Ferdo Vouk and his team are preparing the grounds for experiential education. View the photo report and the panoramic image.

Objavil Administrator,
Categories: Pano report, Photo report, Poljčane, Učni poligon Modraže | 8,896 comments

For centuries, the Boč region has been covered by paths and trails created by the numerous mountain and nature lovers who often visit here. In the recent decades, some of those paths have been equipped with signs and displays presenting the region’s cultural heritage. One of the more interesting ones is Boč forest educational trail, leading from Zgornje Poljčane all the way to the lookout spot on top of Boč and then downwards again to the Balunjača cave, where the treasure of Špelca, a terrible local woman bandit, is said to be hidden. Špelca used to prey on god-fearing pilgrims on their way to the churches on Sladka gora, Ljubična or Kostrivnica.

The complex Boč area, which is connected to Donačka gora and the hills of western Haloze, features an exceptional and well-preserved natural environment.

Boč is well known for its preserved and dense forests growing on its steep slopes. These forests contain indigenous species, the most common among them being the beech tree, the so-called mother of Slovene forests. In addition to the beech tree, other species can be found on the northern and eastern slopes of Boč, such as ash, maple tree, wild cherry, walnut and hornbeam. Boč’s warmer slopes  feature a karst landscape, where we can find sumac, pubescent oak, the wild service tree, whitebeam, manna ash and the black hop-hornbeam. It seems as if we are not on the same mountain anymore …

Boč is home to wild boars, deer and mouflons. The latter, however, are not indigenous to this area. Throughout the year, Boč is bristling with rich plant and animal life, and people often come here to visit and admire the beautiful landscape.

Objavil Editor,
Categories: Boč forest educaitonal trail, Pano report, Poljčane | 8,507 comments

The Bela creek valley, winding its way next to the road between Zgornje Poljčane nad Lovnik, could be called the quarry valley as well.

The white sedimentary rock called dolomite makes for good construction material. The rock, locally called “poljčanar”, is used for construction, road building and many other purposes in the vicinity of Poljčane as well as further away.

The largest quarry in the Bela valley is run by the Granit company. Several smaller quarries have been abandoned in the past and some of them have in time become valuable habitats for plant and animal life. Sadly, attempts to illegally mine the rock disturb the unique diversity.

There are many treasures hidden below Haloze. Their creation is linked to a 280-million-year old grey sedimentary rock called limestone.

In the mass of limestone to the southeast of Poljčane and southwest of Makole, there are number of karts formations and phenomena.There we can find typical geomorphologic formations – funnel-shaped holes, ponors, chasms and the largest “Styrian” cave – the Belojača.

In places where limestone comes into contact with much younger, merely 20-million-year old rocks, “black gold” has accumulated in the geological past. In the first part of the 20th century, the coal industry was the main source of income for many families in this region. The Makole coal mine with its sectors Sega and Hrastovec-Kleče stopped operating in 1963.

It left behind an ethnological, historical and technical legacy, while a “new” legacy is being created in the abandoned mine shafts – a legacy of numerous micro-karst formations (karst spring in Studenice, funnel-shaped holes and chasms in the area of Leneš, the Belojača cave) and micro-karst formations in abandoned mine shafts.