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Green Breath Box: Insights into biogeochemical cycles, environment, and sustainability

English title Green Breath Box: Insights into biogeochemical cycles, environment, and sustainability
Applicant Slaveykova-Startcheva Vera
Number 184355
Funding scheme Agora
Research institution Institut F.-A. Forel Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences
Start/End 01.10.2019 - 30.06.2022
Approved amount 194'379.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences
Environmental Research

Keywords (7)

Water; Environment; Sustainable development; Pollution; Secondary school; Phytoplankton; Education

Lay Summary (French)

Explorer les cycles biogéochimiques, l’environnement et le développement durable
Lay summary
Nous proposons des ateliers interactifs et un kit d’expérimentation destinés à l’éducation à l’environnement et au développement durable pour le cycle d’orientation. Les ateliers comprennent quatre sessions: (i) introduction : l’environnement et le développement durable; (ii) exploration expérimentale: découverte des cycles biogéochimiques et de leurs interdépendances avec l’homme; (iii) exploration expérimentale: impact des substances chimiques sur les cycles biogéochimiques et (iv) voyage imaginaire pour explorer les interdépendances homme-environnement dans la future.  L'essentiel des ateliers consiste à recréer un environnement aquatique simplifié et à observer ce qui se passe lorsque des organismes photosynthétiques sont affectés par des activités humaines. Nous utiliserons les produits de consommation courante de supermarché, tels que les bains de bouche, les solutions antiseptiques, etc. pour simuler l’impact possible des activités humaines sur les écosystèmes aquatiques.  L’impact des produits « ordinaires » et « écologiques » de même type sera comparé. Les quatre sessions sont caractérisées par des objectifs d’apprentissage théoriques, pratiques et réflexifs distincts pour l’enseignement de la Biologie et de la Géographie. Grâce à ces activités pratiques, les élèves se familiariseront avec plusieurs concepts fondamentaux en sciences de l'environnement, tels que les cycles biogéochimiques, les polluants, les interdépendances entre l'homme et l'environnement. Les activités proposées sont en accord avec le Plan d’Etudes Romand (PER) et le programme d’action global pour l’éducation en vue du développement durable de l’UNESCO, visant à doter les apprenants de compétences, de valeurs et d’attitudes nouvelles pour une société plus durable.  
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 24.07.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Project partner

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
175721 Elucidating the role of PHYToplankton in Aquatic Mercury (Hg) Biotic and Abiotic transformations (PHYTAMBA) 01.03.2018 Project funding (Div. I-III)
151518 Stellarium Gornergrat 01.05.2014 Agora
162679 Genetic determinism, human intuitions, and genetics literacy 01.03.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
166089 Bioavailability of Mercury Species to Phytoplankton (BioMer) 01.10.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)


Global biogeochemical cycles are central for the functioning and maintenance of life on our planet. Phytoplankton plays a pivotal role in these cycles and produces about 50% of the molecular oxygen on the planet. Released by different human activities chemical pollutants can considerably affect the phytoplankton leading to alteration of the life-sustaining processes. This motivates us to propose science communication activity highlighting the pivotal role of phytoplankton in the biogeochemical cycles and showing how human activities, e.g. pollution by chemicals, can negatively affect these organisms with repercussions on the environment as a whole, as well as discussing the possible consequences for our future development. The goal of this project is to foster the dialogue between researchers in environmental sciences and secondary school students as target group. In a two-year project, we propose to develop a multisession interactive workshop and experimentation kit, called “Green Breath Box”, aimed at education for environment and sustainable devel¬opment. The main message we wish to communicate to the students is that they are interconnected and inter¬de¬pendent with the environment, as they are active players within the natural cycles, and how the whole systems in¬teracts with its elements. The proposed activity originates from the current research in our Laboratory of Environmen¬tal Biogeo-chemistry and Ecotoxicology at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and represents a novel hands-on out-of-school learning offer for the secondary schools. The workshop includes four sessions: (i) “setting the stage”: link to global en-vironment and sustainable develop¬ment; (ii) experimental exploration: discovering elemental cycles and inter-connections; (iii) experimental exploration: impact of chemicals on elemental cycles and (iv) a fantasy future trip to explore the inter¬dependencies. The core of the workshop (sessions ii and iii) is the experimentation with the Green Breath Box kit allowing to recreate a simplified aquatic environment and to observe what happens when photosyn¬thetic organisms are affected by hu¬man activities, such as release of pollutants. The rechargeable kit will contain all the material for five experiments, a learner-friendly booklet and teacher’s manual, to be developed together with expert teachers. In addition to a hardcopy version of these materials, a software version in form of a free-downloadable application for smartphones/tablets will be provided. With these hands-on activities, students will familiarize with several core concepts in environmental science such as biogeochemical cycles, pollutants, interconnections and interdependences between human and environment. The activities will promote understanding of and awareness to environmental issues, as well as concern and willingness to take action to preserve the environment. The direct dialogue between researchers, students and teachers during the workshop sessions is supposed to support these objectives by personal contact and examples, as well as to spark scientific curiosity in students. As a complement to the workshops with the students, we will offer “parent meetings” in cooperation with the participating schools to enhance the potential impact on sustainability-friendly behaviour within the families.The workshop content and activities are in line with the curriculum for the 10th/11th year of French-speaking Switzerland, and allows for an embedding in existing curricula. They will provide an original resource for teachers interested in implementing the topic in the existing science education program. Constructive exchange with expert teachers is of primary relevance in order to develop the educational approach and supporting material. Educational impact, both for learning and attitudes, as well as implementation of the proposed workshop in the regular scholar and extra-scholar activities and professional development courses for teachers will be measures of success of the project. The activity will be promoted via different existing communication channels including UNIGE’s sustainable development website, ScienScope (including BiOutil), website for educational resources offered by UNIGE as well as social media in collaboration with the Communication Service of the UNIGE, as well as “Département de l’instruction publique, de la formation et de la jeunesse” Canton Geneva educational resources website. The activity is in line with the Global Education 2030 strategy of UNESCO aiming to empower learners with novel skills, values and attitudes leading towards more sustainable society.