Design-oriented pedagogy with Ahokkala school:

Water and sustainable development

Ahokkalan koulu is a small primary school in Kontiolahti municipality in North Karelia, Finland. It has 66 students and classes from 1-6 grades. The classes are combined so that 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6 graders study together with one teacher. Kontiolahti is a very special and child friendly municipality in modern Finland conserving the small local schools situated nearby the habitants. The municipality has approximately 15 000 inhabitants but has 10 primary schools so that students don’t necessarily need a school transport to a large extent.

Ahokkala school, ENO and the DOP method

Ahokkala school is taking part in ENO ‘s Sustainable Development via Co-creation project, which uses the principes of Design oriented pedagogy (DOP), in autumn 2021 investigating water and sustainable development. In short DOP is anchoring the learning process to pupils’ ideas, thinking, conceptions and interpretations about the phenomena in question. It encourages pupils, teachers and experts to innovate so that the learners themselves can design their approach towards the study. The questions are drawn from their natural wondering and the whole study process has a strong role in a form of study diary. Water was a natural choice for the theme since the school is situated nearby the River Pielinen which offers a great opportunity for exploration. The whole school will participate in dealing with the issue in different ways with the help of ENO Environment Online specialists.

8-10 Sep 2021

The project started when classes made a garbage trip near the school surroundings and the beach using the trash-sticks and gloves offered by ENO Environment Online (when collecting trash it is very important to wear the cut protection gloves since there might be sharp and dirty objects). Before the trip there was an education talk about the littering and microplastics that eventually leads to the waters if not cleaned. After the trip the classes made a garbage sorting exercise and played garbage bingo to get to know the most common trashes on the ground. They also conserved some of the garbage for later use for an art project. More about that in later updates.

Pictures from trash picking, bingo and sorting execise.

Beautiful surroundings of the school and Paihola village were explored when picking the trash.

13 Sep 2021 ENO meets Ahokkalan koulu

A beach trip by the River Pielinen was agreed with ENO Environment Online specialist on 13 Sep but the weather on the day was very bad so an optional program was organised instead. ENO Environment Onlines specialist held a water protection lecture with discussions and activity and then world water workshop for the 3-4 and 5-6 graders.

Getting to know each other -The cocktail party!

We were introduced to each other by using new surnames that dealt with the vocabulary related to sustainable development. Then a segmentline was made based on the surname and the feeling it brought up. Was it a good thing or bad thing or you weren’t sure or both? There were no right or wrong answers since we dealt with personal emotions.

A few of words about the water protection

After the introductions we dealt with the issue of water protection in a lesson format. You can read more about the lesson from here

World waters workshop: World waters are demonstrated in miniature: 10l bucket is all water in the world. The water is separated in smaller units to demonstrate the amount of ice and snow, of groundwater, of freshwater in lakes, rivers & swamps and in living species. The students had to put the right answer written in tags.

20 Sep 2021 To the beach!

The 5-6th graders finally were able to go by the River Pielisjoki to investigate it’s water quality and it’s life under water.

5 Nov 2021 Creativity from trash

Ahokkala school students showed their creativity by creating an artwork from the trash they collected earlier in autumn from the beach. An astonishing installation named “Roska-Jantteri -kaksi viikkoa kalassa” (A trash target guy – two weeks in fishing). The trash-guy sits on the rock with his dog and fishing rod and his fishing trip has lasted quite long.

The trash picked was dried and cleaned before handling. Plastic bottles found were transformed to become a fish. You can find an instructions or the idea from here


This article will be updated as the project advances. Please visit regularly to see the updates!  

This school project is done in the Sustainable Development via Co-creation project, which is funded by the Central Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment.