Chile’s young minds go green

Several environmental programs throughout Chile are reaching out to expand environmental awareness among students. 

Throughout Chile, a variety of outstanding projects aim to protect the country’s environmental treasures. The book Chile Verde highlights 106 such projects, including several that focus specifically on developing environmental consciousness among youth and students.
One program that embraces the mission of getting kids to think green is the Eco-school, used as part of the curriculum at the Coya School. Within this program, students learn from such in-house facilities as a water treatment plant and solar panels on the grounds that provide energy to the school’s laboratories. For younger learners, a miniature native tree forest planted by older students offers early lessons about Chile’s ecological heritage. All ages participate in the school’s recycling program, and recycling bins are widespread throughout campus. Students take classroom lessons to the field, discussing environmental themes and preparing projects before heading out to learn from nature. For its innovative program, Coya School – a model for other schools throughout Chile – has been recognized with the Green Flag, an acknowledgement given to Europe’s top Eco-school programs.
In the San Bernardo district of Santiago, Planeta Canelo offers an educational program aimed at encouraging youngsters to think about the environment around them through hands-on education. Over 2,000 students from all over Chile visit this environmental center every year. Among the stations students can explore, there is an organic farm, a recycle and re-use center and a solar panel filled yard that visually demonstrates the sun’s enormous power and potential.  Lessons are made engaging, with workshops on cooking with solar ovens and recycle, re-use projects like weaving
with plastic bags.
In southern Chile, a wilderness strategy challenge game created by Chile’s Universidad Católica-Villarrica prompts student participants to learn about the region’s temperate rainforests and biodiversity of flora and fauna while they play. The university group that instituted the project chose these forests because of their great biodiversity and high concentration of endemic species, with the hope that students will come to appreciate the value of this region’s natural riches.
Chile’s most austral zone, the area of islets and fjords that comprises Magallanes, is home to a fascinating interactive traveling museum exploring the Magallanes seabed that visited over 6,000 students in 14 schools during its tour. Although the traveling museum’s school visit cycle has come to a close, members of Fundación Cequa, the foundation behind the project, continue to travel to communities with different sections of the museum’s interactive and living displays. With the goal of expanding the way student’s think about the seafloor and its creatures, the researchers involved in the traveling museum introduced less known animals, such as mollusks, sea worms and crustaceans. They also presented common sea items in a new light – seaweed was introduced as the most common ocean vegetable. Many of the “exhibits” were gathered by the students themselves, and several students from the different schools of the region were trained by Fundación Cequa to continue presenting at their schools.