Layers of the earth and tunnel systems: The children’s group Dinslaken NAJU won first place in the national competition on the theme of earthworms.
Their mouths are open, their eyes are big – when group leader Betty Neuhaus sits down with the Dinslaken NAJU children’s group at the Pestalozzi Children’s and Youth Center in Hesfeld for the first time after summer holidays, young naturalists can’t believe it: they have taken first place in the national children’s competition “Erlebener Frühling” in category NAJU Kids Collections.
More than 2,100 children, up to 13 years old, participated in the competition in groups. 144 projects were sent to the jury for evaluation. The youngsters researched and learned a lot from January to May. What was the topic of the competition? Earthworms live in the soil. According to NAJU, the aim of the competition is to encourage children to explore nature in a playful way and to do something to protect their environment. It is the children’s and youth organization of NABU, with over 100,000 members, and is the largest association in extracurricular environmental education and in practical nature conservation.
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Like a huge maze
Using a homemade worm tank, the young researchers observed how the worms build their tunnel system. When asked what they enjoyed the most about the project, Matilda and Malges (9 years old) agreed: “We even fed earthworms! That was the best!” The other kids seem to agree too, as they all nod eagerly when the girls answer.
Elva, 19, was particularly impressed by the tunnels the worms had built in her tank, wide-eyed: “It was like a huge maze – so cool!” Their group leader, Betty Newhouse, told them a lot about earthworms, told them about their habitat, and then they would have looked at the layers of the earth together. “Oh, and the worms that Mrs. Newhouse got from the aquarium supply store first had real hairs in them,” Elva recalls and begins to laugh. “It was weird.”
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Permanent exhibition at the Youth Center
What was at first just an exciting project for children has become a permanent exhibition at the Pestalozzi Center for Children and Youth in Heisfeld. In many group lessons, the children worked on all kinds of topics related to earthworms and their environment. “We also dealt with roof caulking, environmental pollution, and intensive farming in this context,” explains Betty Newhouse.
The little explorers drew pictures, took pictures and wrote informative texts that now cover an entire wall in the entrance hall of the Youth Center. The children are rightly proud of their work, which is now freely available to all and they can inform everyone in detail about the earthworm and its habitats.
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