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Guardians of the Coast 2019-2020: Italian schools for the protection of the sea

After three years of exciting work involving over 12,000 students from 294 high schools throughout Italy, now also teachers and pupils of primary and secondary schools can participate in the program with new dedicated digital tools.

Guardiani della Costa” is a national initiative of environmental education and citizen science promoted by Costa Crociere Foundation in collaboration with Scuola di Robotica, the Ligurian Marine Observatory for Fishing and the Environment (OLPA) and ENEA Marine Environment Research Centre as scientific partners, with Key Technologies SpA as a technical partner.

The project, started in 2017 and initially addressed to high school teachers and students, is now extended to primary and intermediate schools of the whole peninsula, with the aim of making young people understand the uniqueness and fragility of the naturalistic heritage of the Italian coasts, as well as increasing awareness on plastic pollution at sea, to actively involve them in the protection of the marine environment.

The third year of activity with high schools has just ended, with good results in terms of participation, despite the enormous difficulties brought about by the Covid-19 emergency. In fact, due to the lockdown, teachers and students were unable to do field activities to monitor the stretches of the coast they adopted and, consequently, the data collection for the citizen science project was suspended. However, many teachers decided to continue following the webinars (15 live sessions of one hour each, with the specialists of OLPA, Scuola di Robotica and ENEA), and taking advantage of Guardiani della Costa online assets (videos, webinars, tests) to deliver distance learning to their students.

Overall, in the three years, Guardiani della Costa actively involved 294 secondary schools (from 18 regions, including non-coastal ones), about 1400 teachers and over 12 thousand students, adopting 1/3 of the Italian coasts and collecting over 105 thousand scientific data relating to Mediterranean biodiversity, marine litter, pollution, and other environmental indicators.

As part of the project scale-up, new specific interactive tools dedicated to children and pre-adolescents are now available. Costa Crociere Foundation, in collaboration with CivicaMente srl (company specialized in the use of digital technology for education and training), has added a section in the free educational platform EducazioneDigitale ©, with a monograph for teacher training, the LivingBook © for 8-11 year olds, the OpenMind © for 11-13 year olds and teacher’s guides for using the digital lessons. Primary or secondary school teachers can register for free on the portal and access the area dedicated to Guardians of the Coast to participate with their classes in the environmental education program dedicated to the Mediterranean. Online since June 6, more than 150 teachers have already registered and downloaded materials for the next school year.

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