Northern Lights and Snowball Fights: Education through Expedition

Tuesday 28th March, 2017|Category: News

We were thrilled to support the launch of the The Education through Expeditions (ETE) project last week. The ETE was set up by Antony Jinman and Paul Hart and aims to raise the aspirations of young people from Barne Barton and King’s Tamerton by combining interactive workshops with outdoor learning and confidence building. Following a successful crowdfunding effort raising over £35,000, Antony Jinman and team have embarked on an expedition to Finland along with five students from local Plymouth schools. For full details about the ETE, please click here.

Jess Stainsby is one of the teenagers from Tamar View and Barne Barton Youth Club who is volunteering as part of the expedition. Jess has written two blog posts to document their fascinating experiences so far, which you can read below.

First Blog Entry:

Like something out of a story book, waking up in Lapland, Finland has been a mind blowing experience for our group of children, young people, teachers and youth workers from Plymouth.

Blankets of vast glistening white, snow-covered ground with green shoots of life and endless dazzling blue sky meet our gaze at every turn as we embark on an adventure of a lifetime that has included ice fishing, a snow mobile sled ride, lunch by fire, a stay in a cabin in the wilderness with no access to electricity or technology and messing about in the snow.

With each fun and unique activity, new experiences are gained alongside learning fascinating facts about life in the polar world. The favourite activity amongst the group on this expedition so far has been playing in the snow: falling in the huge, deep mounds of snow that cover the ground, throwing snowballs and especially building snowmen have been especially popular with more fun yet to come. Finley and Tomacee, two Marine Academy Plymouth Primary School students, shared their opinions on playing in the snow as being “an amazing, fun and a good experience”. This is a common thought. During this fun they were taught about the structure and different types of snowfall by lead instructor Paul Hart from Education Through Expedition (ETE), who also shared his stories and experiences of avalanches as a way to engage with the children and also teach them about the risks and dangers of the conditions.

Alongside playing in the snow, we each had an exciting opportunity to stay in a wilderness cabin in the woods near a large frozen lake with no electricity or technology; even no lighting, running water or heating! Throughout the day, we rode a snowmobile and sled and took part in ice fishing – this is where a narrow hole is drilled through the thick ice to allow a fishing line to be dangled down – and was described by all the children as “fun and exciting”, and although no fish were actually caught, we still got to try a traditional Finnish recipe of salmon and potato soup for lunch. In the evening in the wilderness cabin, all of the students and teachers sat around a table playing card games, which was described as a favourite by one student from Marine Academy Plymouth Primary School (MAP), Ruby, who said: “My favourite was the card games because we were all together and enjoying ourselves.” This shares how the children have not only been directly taught, but are also taking charge of their own learning; gaining knowledge in confidence through interviews, as well as teamwork and friendship.

On our journey to the wilderness cabin, we were lucky enough to come across some Reindeer, in which Charlie Smith, a year 5 teacher from Riverside Community Primary School shared as her favourite part of the day: “I really liked finding the Reindeer as they were unique and different.”

Alongside the educational experiences of the children from both MAP and Riverside, two young people from the Tamar View Community Ambassadors project, Jess – who is being educated in interview tactics and blog-writing – and Brendan – who is being taught in interviewing and camera technologies – were able to learn useful skills. Brendan said: “At first I had no idea what I was doing, but now I am much more confident doing this work.”

So far this expedition has been an amazing experience for all involved, and nobody can wait to see what the next few days hold before our return home on Thursday. In the meantime, we will continue to learn and flourish throughout this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Second Blog Entry:

Day three of the Finland expedition has been so special; with unbelievable sights and exciting opportunities available to the group, and although the temperature is cold, our minds are warm with the incredible knowledge that we have all learnt.

Today, we have had the amazing opportunity to take a visit to the Sami Parliament building in Inari and also visit a reindeer farm. In both of these locations, we have been able to learn a great deal about the Sami people, who are indigenous to Finland, as well as learn a few words in their language. During our time today, we went on a reindeer ride, in which a reindeer pulled two people on a sled and we had the opportunity to sit in the very room where all of the Sami Government holds its meetings. We learnt about the different equipment that the Sami people hand-make, and one student from Marine Academy Plymouth, Mohammed, acknowledged: “The Parliament building was so fun! I learnt a lot about the Sami and really liked the handmade objects because even though they are handmade they’re so practical.” One student from Riverside Community Primary, Cody, quotes that: “The velvet on the reindeer’s antlers is so nice. I liked getting the chance to feed them because they are so different from anything that we have back home in Plymouth.”

This shows how a little adventure goes a long way in letting young people grow and gain new experiences. Jeff Dawson from the Tamar View Youth Project shared his opinion on how the information gathered throughout the day has affected not just him, but everyone on this team: “Talking with the guide at the Parliament building, Katariina Guttorm, was fascinating as she shared the amazing education of Finnish children and I think that our children could also benefit from similar methods. Sami culture is extremely interesting and Katariina’s insight was only enhanced by the richness of the experience at the Reindeer farm. All of the Sami people that we have met have come across as warm, friendly and hospitable, and it has been such a privilege to be given this small insight into their heritage and culture.”

To end this amazing day, everyone had fun sliding down the slopes with sleds, and this fun activity has brought everybody together and strengthened the bonds of friendship.

As a whole, today was incredible; we have learnt about the Sami people and even got to ride on a Reindeer sled, and the fun is not over yet! We still have two days left of breathtaking experiences and activities that the group are so excited to get stuck into.

We have loved reading about their journey so far and wish the team the best of luck with the remainder of their expedition!

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