A. Almeida1, M. Rodrigues1, B. García Fernández2

1Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa (PORTUGAL)
2Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Facultad de Educación de Ciudad Real (SPAIN)
The PREDINATUR project began in 2017 with the purpose of promoting the contact of pupils of Primary School with nature. As a result of an increasingly urban experience and the use of technological devices in indoor settings, children today are moving away from the natural world. And the experiences that are still occurring are often confined to places where nature is managed (botanic gardens, zoos and pedagogical farms), or are associated with the viewing of nature programs in the media (Kellert, 2005).

This situation has consequences. Firstly, the contact with managed nature leads to various misconceptions about nature dynamics as well as about the real needs of living beings; secondly, the media contents are mainly focused on distant realities, leading to the unfamiliarity and devaluation of local nature and to a poor awareness of the need for its preservation; thirdly, the contact with nature is fundamental for the development of children, since it stimulates their creativity, develops all their senses and contributes to their mental, physical and spiritual sanity.

School can help to counteract this trend by promoting pupils' contact with nature. But with its focus on learning, teachers do not always have educational resources to promote outdoor activities.

Thus, this project aims to support the visitation of natural areas in Portugal and Spain and to stimulate similar projects. To this end, a website was created for free dissemination of educational resources. The first resources were designed by students from two higher education institutions, respectively for Lagoa Pequena, Portugal (Natura 2000 under the Birds and Habitats Directives of European Union), and for Las Tablas de Daimiel National Park, Spain (a wetland on the La Mancha plain).

The resources conceived so far and those to be conceived in the future seek to be interdisciplinary in nature and to use technological devices, helping students to understand that their use is useful in outdoor contexts. The website of the project provides an on-line questionnaire which allows resources evaluation by the user teachers and pupils. This evaluation aims the continuous reformulation of the resources made available, based on the criticisms and suggestions that are given. The website also provides scientific articles on various protected areas to encourage teachers to the construction of other resources supported by sound scientific information.

At this stage, the three resources made available online for Lagoa Pequena have already been tested by 16 teachers and 65 students of the 6th grade of schooling (ages 10 to 12). From the results of the evaluation, it should be noted that the user teachers emphasized their integrative nature and the use of digital resources as very motivating for the pupils. However, they criticized the absence of questions directed to get information from the informative placards and suggested that a few activities, more complex, would be better achieved after the visit. These and other suggestions will be addressed in the next reformulation of the resources. The students highlighted positively the use of digital resources and criticized essentially the fact that some activities have a lot of maths included.

In the near future, the project intends to contemplate other natural areas and make the website also available in Portuguese Spanish and English, to facilitate the exchange of ideas related to the present issue among the research community.