Climate change was in focus when Kursenai Laurynas Ivinskis gymnasium from Lithuania and Harjavallan Lukio from Finland initiated the project "SOS Polar Bears" in 2009. Through the Nordplus Junior mobility project comic strips, video films and a calendar have been produced to illustrate the findings in the students' work.
During the project "SOS Polar Bears“ two groups of young people from two countries situated near the Baltic Sea – Finland and Lithuania - investigated the changes in climate, their impact on environment, people and their health, flora and fauna. For this purpose a questionnaire was prepared and local people were interviewed about the changes in climate; together with professionals from the department of environment students measured the amount of traffic fumes in the air, watched and took pictures of photochemical smog phenomenon in industrial areas. The participants of the project analysed the data of the questionnaire and research, compared them, drew the conclusions and presented the results to their town communities. Lithuanian and Finnish students enhanced their school knowledge of Natural Science about the hothouse effect, photochemical smog, acid rain, erosion of soil, and thickening of the ozone layer. The accepted knowledge, threats, fears and encouragement to save our environment and health was expressed in comic-strips produced by students, which stimulated their contemporaries, parents and teachers to think about the possibilities to influence the reasons of the changes in climate. The Polar Bear, a representative of endangered species because of the changes in climate, was chosen as the symbol of the project and the main hero of the comic-strips. The created comic-strips were used to shoot short video films with Lithuanian and Finnish music in the background.
Another project product was a 2011 calendar with the illustrations from the comic-strips on the topic of climate changes and summarised data from the research. Moreover, we thought that it was more meaningful to use not only the official project communication language (English), but also Lithuanian and Finnish for the expression of the cultures of the two countries. Much attention in the project was paid to Lithuanian-Finnish intercultural education and ability to live together in the enlarging EU.
In October 2009 a class from Harjavalta Lukio School visited Lithuanian students in Kursenai. It was really fun to work with the tasks of the project. The first drafts of the comic strips were made in Lithuania.
In February 2010 a group of Lithuanians went to Finland to round up the project activities.
Ausra is one of the Lithuanian students who participated in the project, and here is what she writes:
At last the day of our trip to Finland came. It meant different things to all of us. But everybody was sure that the trip would bring us something extremely new. We didn‘t notice how we reached Riga airport and it took only a couple on hours to get to Tampere, where our Finnish friends and their teacher met us. It was great to meet again!
Whenever I think about Finland I remember drifts of snow, a small but very cosy town of Harjavalta and very kind people. We got so much experience being abroad.
We discussed a lot about what we could do to make our environment better for all – people, plants and animals, how we can save Polar bears. In Finland we had lectures about climate change in Finland and visited museums. I remember a visit to Nickel factory where we found out about air pollution in Harjavalta.
It was really fun to work together – the company was great! That‘s why one could see tears when parted. But I believe that our communication would not stop at this point and we will go on working together. I am sure that our group meetings in Lithuania and Finland bridged the Baltic Sea and we are close to each other forever.