Environmental education in Siberia

In Siberia it’s a rare event to see 200 environmental educators in one room. Last week I visited the annual environmental education conference organized by the Department of Environmental Protection of Tomsk Region, Siberia. Some guest presenters from Moscow were trying to teach Siberian educators about environmental curriculum based on one-way transfer of knowledge. In contrast, a number of environmental educators from Tomsk and other Siberian cities presented their education projects engaging students in hands-on and inquiry-based learning. For example, a group of Tomsk students in an after-school program have developed and installed interpretation signs near a natural monument, which represents a riverside rock outcrop. To develop signs, students had to talk to scientists and handle contradictory information about ancient cultures that used these rock formations for settlements and to hunt mammoths. By installing signs, students are trying to inform people about the natural and social history of this place and preserve this urban natural site, which has sometimes been neglected.