Jump in the Vital Water

Water – our vital substance – has been the subject of environmental education studies at Nepenmäki school with ENO this year. Third graders 3C- class together with their teacher Mrs. Henna Kinnunen and ENO Environment Online specialist Mrs. Maire Turunen has planned the program for the whole year around the theme. For the upcoming UN’s World Water Day on 22 March 2021 we want to publish and show some of the things we have already done and also to tell what there is to come with the water studies later on in the spring semester.

A trip to Kuhasalo shore

One thing for the studies was for sure – we wanted to let students learn from experience with hands-on methods. The first thing the class did was to make an excursion to the shore. The nearest lake for Nepenmäki school was the Lake Pyhäselkä and it’s shores in Kuhansalo natural park. ENO Environment Online borrowed for the class a  Earth Echo Water challenge research kit (check also for free samples). There were different tools to measure water quality; for example Ph, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, temperature, color, smell and foamability. The school themselves had nets which they used for exploring the water bottom and its aquatic plants and small animals. Also, they could grab away some trash and garbage if they found something that did not belong to the water. Some boys even took rope with them and catched some pikes! During the beach visit the students made observations using WWF’s Nature Watch forms. Afterwards the students wrote a few lines about the excursion and experience.

“In september we visited Kuhasalo natural park. The trip was fun and we learned new things. We had tablets, tools and forms with us. We learned that the water in the shores of Pyhäselkä lake was very clean. However the water was also low in nutrients. We did some small measurements. We measured how bright the water was and the result was 40 JTU which is normal. We also measured the amount of oxygen and acidity (Ph) which was 7 and is normal. During the break we ate packed lunch and watched around us. We had eaten and we continued explorations with nets.”

Earth Echo water challenge kit was used to monitor local water. They also have free sample kits for schools. Check

”We made a water research trip in Kuhasalo in September. We did the research in small groups. We researched the amount of oxygen and made other tests. We had with us the schoolbags, packed lunch, measurement tools and papers. The research place was Kuhasalo natural park in Joensuu. Name of the lake: Lake Pyhäselkä. Waters acidity Ph value was 7. The oxygen was 4-ppm and turbidity 40-JTU. We explored the lake. There was a lot of lake reed in the water which means the lake is eutrophic.”

Water protection and cleaning

To get started with this topic the class was offered an information strike with discussion to understand the meaning and importance of water protection -which can’t be underestimated these days. There were two essential messages for students:

1)     No living species can exist without clean water and that’s why we need to pay attention to water protection and understand how vulnerable and scarce our freshwater resources are.

2)     We all can influence water quality and influence others to act wisely as well.

The main questions for the students were:

–         Where there is water around you and why do you need clean water?

–         What causes the water pollution?

–         What are the problems that water pollution causes?

–         Where is the local waste water cleaned?

–         How can you affect water protection?

After this we continued by asking the students to write in couples a short story about what could end up in the drain during the day. The students could write the story about themselves or use imaginary persons like for example siblings Anne and Mathew. The story can start when Anne and Mathew are waking up in the morning and end when they go to sleep.

After the story writing the real hands-on part of the lesson started. The things that came up in the students stories are being listed and the waste water preparation could start by adding some of those ingredients into the clean water. For this a transparent bucket is needed.

–         Put fresh hand warm water on buckett over one litre.

–         Mix some toothpaste, soap, detergent or milk powder to represent the detergent. Quantity: tablespoon.

–         Mix some fertilizer powder, mold or etc. to represent the excrement. Quantity: tablespoon.

–         Mix apple juice or caramel colors to represent the urine. Quantity: tablespoon.

–         Mix shred plastic to represent the trash going incorrectly into the drain

–         Mix the waste water well and let it stay in the bucket while you give instructions for the water cleaning test.

The students can now start to make in small groups the water cleaning part. There are different ways to realise it. In Nepenmäki they used natural and mechanical methods by using plastic bottles and three different types of sand with coffee filter bags to purify the water. The result of their cleaning process was stunning (as you can see on the photo)!

Waste water cleaning test gave the 3C class students a good understanding of how groundwater is formed and why it is clean and drinkable water.

Here are some video instructions how you can make it with your students:

in finnish in english


Worlds waters and states of water 

In February Nepenmäki school had a Saturday school day and there was a possibility to realise small workshops around this year’s theme -water. Since february is a cold winter month in Finland it was a great possibility also to investigate water in its different states. During the day students had 5 different workshops with an ENO Environment specialist helping the class. These workshops were:

1)     World waters and water states plays (See instructions for World Waters lesson from here)

2)     Floating and breathing air

3)     Snow smelting and tree bud observing

4)     Snow depth and temperature

5)     Frozen soap bubbles and snow towers

World waters 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. (See instructions for World Waters lesson from here)

Snow smelting and tree bud observing in the class. Outside: water state plays.

Water and microplastic

We made an excursion at the of May 2021 to the beach to investigate trash and microplastics. The idea of this lesson was to collect trash from the beach and study the most common trash in the ground playing litter bingo and also investigate the microplastics from the beach.

About microplatics:

  • To understand what is microplastic and where it comes from.
  • What are the causes of littering and microplastics in the nature.
  • How can one act so that environment stays clean and microplastics are not to be realeased in waters.
  • To tell how society is acting against littering and microplastics
  • To understand the challenges of reducing plastics use in our society

The next video shows in 2 minutes how to search trash from the beach and to investige microplastics. The video has subtitles in english and in russian.

Here are our photos of the event:

In Finland environmental education is being studied in schools from the first grade. Third graders have 3  weekly hours of environmental education.