Mudflats or the city?

Pupils at Coombe Girls’ School and Kooperative Gesamtschule Norderney had always been fascinated by the difference in attitudes towards the environment in Norderney and New Malden, a suburb of London, and so it was an ideal topic to cover in a project.

Who: Coombe Girls’ School and Kooperative Gesamtschule Norderney

Participants: 34 British and German pupils involved

Looking at local environments

Many German pupils had not been to the mudflats on their island of Norderney for years. After swapping videos of their local areas with the UK school ahead of their visit, they began to discover how unique their own environment was. Together with the UK pupils, they took part in a ‘Wattwanderung’, and found it fascinating to discover what animals depended on the mudflats for their existence and how global warming was affecting the area. They began to discuss, unprompted, how important it was for them to protect such habitats, and also looked at the development around the waterways in the New Malden area in comparison to Norderney.

Responding to environmental problems

Pupils explored what was being done to address the environmental problems. They shared lessons in both schools on geography, looking in particular at urbanization and coastal erosion. In London, both groups visited the Green zone in the Natural History Museum to learn about eco-systems, and the Science Museum to learn about energy for the future. Pupils completed questionnaires on environmental habits and then discussed causes and solutions for the problems, working collaboratively and considering what they had learned from each other on this theme.

Discovering different attitudes

The UK pupils were surprised that the students on Norderney never used a car and noticed the presence of wind turbines on the mainland. They found Norderney to be quiet and environmentally conscious and very different to London.

It made me think about how often I get lifts and that maybe I should think about walking or cycling more, (UK participant).

The German pupils left with the impression of London as a busy city, full of commuter traffic, and also a stark contrast to the quiet island of Norderney.

Showtime for the environment

The UK and German pupils collaborated together to produce a play on what they had learned from each other about local environments and environmental issues. They shared their learning with other pupils in their schools by doing this and informed them about environmental issues. Their play included important scenes about the topics of energy emissions, recycling, and pollution in the North Sea and the River Thames as well as their effects on local wildlife. The project has given the schools’ 10-year partnership more purpose and prominence, and the schools hope to involve more cross-curricular work in the future.

Norderney couldn’t be more different to London – it was quiet and environmentally conscious. I found out lots about what they do to help the environment which we don’t do here. (Pupil, Coombe Girls’ School)