Outdoor lessons are conducted by scientists of Altai State University

31 August 2020 Press Centre of IBB

Salair school forestry appeared in the Yeltsov school named after the Hero of the Soviet Union Mikhail Yelesin in the village of Yeltsovka quite recently and immediately became actively involved in the work: it establishes close cooperation with various public environmental organizations and the scientific community, and takes part in regional events.

In August, Yeltsov's schoolchildren were visited by experts, specialists in the field of botany and entomology: Viktor Nikulkin, project manager of the Altai regional public organization "Ecoclub" and scientists from the Institute of Biology and Biotechnology of Altai State University - Elena Kuchina, Senior Lecturer of the Department of Zoology and Physiology and Natalia Yelesova, Associate Professor of the Department of Botany, Candidate of Biological Sciences.

Together with them came their recent friends, whom the school forestry activists met this spring - the children's tourist group "Caravan" from the Pervomaisky district, headed by Alexander Skachko and two of his pupils - young nature explorers. Scientists' trips to schoolchildren in different districts of Altai Krai are carried out this year in the course of the implementation of the project “Practical Science for Schoolchildren. University Level", supported by the Presidential Grants Foundation within the framework of the Adopt a Wildlife Sanctuary program.

For local schoolchildren, university teachers held interesting educational master classes on studying and collecting insects, as well as compiling a herbarium. "Lessons" took place outdoors, where children could immediately get acquainted with the objects about which scientists told them.

First of all, the Yeltsov’s children, naturalists of the sixth and ninth grades, invited the guests to go to the Klyuchi pond. Here the first lesson in hydrobiology took place - the study of aquatic and near-water inhabitants. The schoolchildren observed living objects in the water with great enthusiasm. Under the leadership of Elena Kuchina, the children deftly wielded special nets, collected various bugs that they did not know yet, put them in special containers prepared in advance, so that they could then look better with the help of a special magnifying device - a binocular. The youths caught a lot of leeches in the water. But it was not a rare medical leech that got on the pages of the Red Book of the Altai Territory, but rather common for Altai water bodies, a widespread small pseudo-cone leech. Unlike the medical one, it does not feed on the blood of mammals, but leads a predatory lifestyle, hunting small aquatic inhabitants. The most amazing aquatic insect for the children turned out to be a water stick - ranatra. This insect really looks like a scorpion. And it bites, quite painfully, pinching the skin with its grasping front limbs.

And then the whole friendly company went to the meadow, where the children learned the basics of collecting ground insects. Locusts, grasshoppers, and even bumblebees and bees fell into the entomological nets. The children, especially girls, cautiously chose insects from the nets, as they were afraid of being stung. Elena Kuchina, who conducted the lesson, always came to their aid and took out dangerous animals, helping novice entomologists and accompanying them with interesting stories about the biology of the meadow inhabitants which were caught.

After a short lunch break under the shade of trees, the children were taken on an excursion to the forest by botanist Natalya Yelesova. During the route she showed different types of medicinal plants and told about their useful properties. The children collected all the unknown species of herbs and then learned how to properly lay them for drying in the herbarium. If you do not straighten the leaves and flowers, then the dried specimen will then not be able to be examined in detail and determined by a special book - a guide. Therefore, the plant must be carefully flattened and laid out on a newspaper sheet before being placed under a press to dry. Another equally important point in compiling a herbarium is the label. It must be written for each herbarium specimen. In the field, children received the skills to correctly fill out this document, in fact - the "passport" of a plant from the collection.

Guests from Barnaul noted the uniqueness of the Salair nature and its inhabitants. They also appreciated the knowledge of some Yeltsov schoolchildren in the field of botany. And some of the guys were so inspired by the classes that they decided to deepen and expand their knowledge in certain areas. So, for example, Nastya Kuznetsova expressed a desire to make a real entomological collection from the insects collected during the excursion at home according to all the rules. Then, in the classroom, all this will be useful to both the teacher and the children.

After outdoor classes, the whole company returned to school, and in the classroom they summed up the results, shared their impressions, and listened to the parting words of scientists. Before seeing off the guests, activists of the school forestry showed them their nursery, where in the spring they sowed pine seeds. The children decided to take seriously the restoration of the valuable breed on Salair. This wonderful initiative was supported by a grant from the Governor of Altai Krai in the field of environmental education and enlightenment within the framework of the project called "Revive the Salair cedar!"

Amazing outdoor lessons together with scientists, of course, were not in vain for the activists of the school forestry. Parting with the guests, the children thanked them for informative excursions, invited them to come again to continue their acquaintance and cooperation in studying and preserving the nature of their small homeland.

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