The project involves several stakeholders: Viseu City Hall, the School of Education and the School of Agriculture of the Polytechnic Institute of Viseu, and agricultural producers in the Viseu region.
The target audience are children aged 6 to 12 years old and it also engages bachelor and master students of the Polytechnic Institute of Viseu. The integration of these students as monitors is an educational strategy of the schools promoting meaningful learnings in work settings.
Nature and outdoor learning activities provides opportunities for personal and social development of children, promoting both, a greater knowledge and understanding of the world around them. The activities outside the traditional classroom contexts provide opportunities to explore, inquire and develop creative thinking, becoming aware of the complexity of the real world. These learning experiences are embodied and located, and multisensory experiences become part of the knowledge construction. Technologies offer unique potentialities to develop environmental education activities, the integration of mobile technology in a transparent and ubiquitous way, help children to explore and sense the environment.
The framework used to design the activities consider situated cognition and the use of ICT tools to foster authentic and meaningful learnings. Children are invited to visit farms in non-formal or informal context, five days over one year, matching representative moments of the agricultural cycle. In these visits children plays the role of farmer, researcher and reporter.
As farmers, children experience the agricultural work. As researchers, they use tablets and physical sensors (anemometer) to explore and investigate fields, biological and physical aspects, to plan measurements, to collect data and to compare environmental data.
As reporters, they use audio recorders and action cameras to represent the work in the fields and the experiences and knowledge developed within the project. The vineyard was the first cycle explored, as the vine is an economically attractive product for the Viseu region (Dão Region). 50 Children and 30 students participate in the “Dão Kids Academy”. The activities took place in non-formal learning settings, in five farms of wine producers of the Viseu region.
Participants were divided in five groups to visit a specific farm over one year (2015-2016). This year 30 children and 12 students began to explore the linen cycle, other important product for the region. The “Linen Academy” took place at an ethnographic association, which have linen fields in Viseu and in the Linen Museum of Várzea do Calde Viseu. In all these activities children learn to work both with mobile technology and sensors and the use of the ICT tools scaffold the development of research skills, presentation, interpretation and reflection on environmental data collected.e knowledge construction.