Around a River, a New Way to Experience School

In Lower Saxony, the river Oker is the medium for a pedagogical project focused on water, jointly conceived and promoted by teachers and associative players.

Environment and Biodiversity

Braunschweig (Lower Saxony), Germany

Ina Patricia Rieger

10 000 € to the Selection Committee at 2007/07/03

Project leader


"The members of the Brunsviga association and the teachers of the Commeniusschule, each in their own domain, are experienced and recognized professionals. We are convinced of the success of this project, which pools their expertise and focuses on a fascinating subject, through which the children will learn a great deal about their town and their environment. The innovative combination of cognitive elements, experiments and creativity, will enrich the school program and enhance the qualifications of the teachers to enable them to conduct the project over the long term."
Ina Patricia Rieger

The evolution of the German school system towards courses and activities covering an entire day will culminate, in Braunschweig, in an experiment that is innovative in two respects. First, by combining the cognitive and creative approaches to familiarize youths with the environment. Second, by enlisting teachers and associative educators around a common pedagogical program conducted in the school.

The Commenius school, which has 390 students, is defined as a "house of learning", granting equal importance to the acquisition of knowledge and to social skills and artistic expression. It has been collaborating for 15 years with the Brunsviga association, which runs a cultural center and a home for children. The home welcomes 40 children from the neighborhood, aged from six to 12, and offers them, after school and up to 6:00pm, educational accompaniment and scholastic support.

The two partners are reinforcing their cooperation today, drawing inspiration from the river Oker, which the children see daily and which has played a decisive role in the economic and cultural development of the town of Braunschweig.

Turning the School into an Open Place

Titled "Our River of Life, the Oker", their joint project will invite the children, on the opening of the 2007 school year, to discover the element water in a different way. A study of the place of the river in the historic and economic life of the population, performance of water analyses and experiments in the laboratory or in the pond created in the school courtyard, artistic activities (painting, sculpture and musical theater) on the theme of water: the initiative, designed for children of all ages, thus enables the teachers and the educators to inaugurate together a way to transfer the school into a center of learning and fulfillment open all day.

With other partners, the Veolia foundation is participating in the financing of this project alongside the municipality of Braunschweig. Its grant will help to equip the laboratory and the pond and the water circuit (with reservoir, waterwheel and pump), installed in the school and built by the children themselves.