INTERACTIVE CENTER for ECOLOGICAL EDUCATION in Mikołajki (abrev. ICEE)
At the beginning of 2020, at the Nencki Institute Research Station in Mikołajki, we are starting a new project dedicated to the popularization of science, under the name “Interactive Center for Ecological Education in Mikołajki”, co-financed by the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (in accordance with contract No. 591/2019 / Ww50 / EE-EE / D).
The aim of the project is popularisation of biodiversity and promoting the principles of sustainable development, and raising the level of ecological awareness and shaping pro-ecological attitudes of society (in particular the young generation). These activities will be aimed at involving the society in the active protection of the natural environment and in the effective use of its resources in the Great Masurian Lakes, in particular in the Natura 2000 areas.
As part of this project, a two-environment (connecting the forest environment with the shore of Mikołajskie Lake) educational path will be created on the nature-diversified area of the Research Station in Mikołajki. Path will titled “Diversity of Masurian Lakes and the Piska Forest” allow you to learn about the biodiversity of Masurian nature on an example the ecosystem of a typical Masurian forest as a part of the huge Piska Forest and the adjacent lake ecosystem. Information boards describing interesting objects and natural processes, both forest and lake, will be placed on the path. The path will be specially adapted for the blind and visually impaired. It will contain typhlographic tables (giving the possibility of “viewing” by touch), descriptions in Braille and a smartphone application will be developed in which, after scanning the code placed on each board, you will listen to its content.
The second part of the project will be a three-year series of lectures, workshops and interactive demonstrations on the biological biodiversity of the Piska Forest and Masurian Lakes addressed to primary and secondary school students from our region.
Project title: Interactive Center for Ecological Education in Mikołajki
Beneficiary: Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology PAS in Warsaw, ul. Pasteura 3, 02-093 Warsaw
Contract: No. 591/2019/Ww50/EE-EE/D
Project location: Nencki Institute Research Station in Mikołajki, ul. Leśna 13, 11-730 Mikołajki
Total project cost: PLN 380 100.00
Amount of subsidy from the NFOŚiGW: PLN 339 100.00
Project duration: January 2020 – October 2023.
Project manager: Tomasz Janecki (Nencki Institute Research Station in Mikołajki)
Due to the pandemic of Coronavirus, we were forced to change the schedule of our Project. If the situation allows it, we want to start the cycle of educational activities (workshops for school children) in 2022.
Optical and electronic equipment has already been purchased (microscopes with cameras and monitors, air quality sensors, a multimedia projector with a laptop) and laboratory tables with stools. We also have various educational kits (for learning to recognize trees, fungi, butterflies, animal tracks, for basic water analysis using colorimetric methods, for water filtering, etc.) that will be used during ecological workshops. Books were also purchased (field guides to the world of trees, insects and birds), which will be prizes for the most careful participants of the workshops. Each workshop will end with a short competition of knowledge gained during the classes.
One of the points of the project is the creation of a small, demonstrative water reservoir as a model lake of our climate zone, with a typical shape of a lake basin and characteristic aquatic plants. The bottom and the shores of the existing water body was cleaned and the several new species of Polish aquatic plants were planted.
As part of the project, it was planned to establish a Polish flower meadow, which will fulfill two important functions: natural – increasing biodiversity and maintaining the typical (often forgotten) Polish meadow plants, as well as providing “food supply” for pollinating insects. The second function will be the educational function – field parts of some activities (e.g. concerning plants and insects) will take place on this meadow. In July 2020, on a properly prepared area of almost 1 ha, special seeds mixture containing seeds of 44 species of polish meadow plants were sown. However, we will have to wait for the effect.
In the frame of the project, the practical part of the activities for school children (from April to October) will take place in the open air. Therefore, an exhibition tent was designed and made. To set up microscopes and binoculars to view the collected specimens and samples, protecting against wind and sun will bepossible inside. The tent will also be a form of graphic promotion of the project and the co-financed institutions (NFOŚiGW and the Nencki Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences) during other, regular educational events attended by the Nencki Institute Research Station in Mikołajki, such as: Scientific Picnic of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Olsztyn, White Stork Day in Masurian Landscape Park, Spring Ecology Picnic or Science Festival in Mikołajki.
Educational booklet entitled “Underwater Inhabitants of Masurian Lakes”‘ developed together with the Masurian Landscape Park have already arrived at the Research Station in Mikołajki (second edition, reprinting 3.000 pcs) . This booklet will be distributed to all participants of educational workshops carried out under the project.
In the end of December 2020, another point of the project was completed: printing information leaflets about the project and the Educational Path (4.000 psc). These leaflets will be distributed to all participants of educational workshops conducted as part of the project and to everyone visiting the Educational Path “Biodiversity of Masurian Lakes and Piska Forest”.
After a long break related to COVID pandemic, the works related to the continuation of our Project are slowly starting. In September 2021, PLANTS OF TREES, BUSHES and herbaceous plants were purchased, which this fall will enrich the area along the ICEE educational path.
The National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management agreed to allocate the money saved in other tasks for a new task: “Adapting the ICT structure of the Research Station in Mikołajki to conduct on-line educational classes”. Since we cannot conduct normal educational activities in a pandemic, we decided to move them to a virtual space. Therefore, appropriate ICT equipment was purchased, with the use of which the classes planned in the Project will be conducted on-line. We plan to start the classes in the second quarter of 2022.
In the spring of 2022, the second part of polish flawers meadows seeds was sown, increasing the existing area by about 300 square meters. The botanical effects will be presented in mid-summer.
In May 2022, the first educational activities took place after a long pandemic break. Children from the Primary School in Mikołajki listened to stories about the Masurian Lakes, then measured the basic parameters of the lakes water, took plankton samples, which they then saw and recognized under microscops. The classes ended with a small competition with book prizes. Each participant also got an educational book entitled: “Underwater inhabitants of Masurian lakes”. The last point of the workshop was a visit to the educational path.
At the end of May 2022 a next part of plants, shrubs and trees were purchased, which will be planted along to the educational path and the polish flowers meadow.