Project ProBleu: Promoting ocean and water literacy in school communities
23 November 2023
Above: PML scientists Dr Gennadi Lessin and Dr Frances Hopkins bringing ocean knowledge to the Connect Academy Trust
The EU-funded project aims to improve water literacy in schools across the EU and its associated countries, providing grants to over 100 schools to support them joining the expanding Network of European Blue Schools.
ProBleu will mobilise and engage students, school communities, and the wider community to enhance understanding, stewardship, and literacy about oceans and waters, with a focus on restoring them by 2030. Through student and school projects supported by our science, participants in primary and secondary education will gain ocean and water literacy through activities in and outside the classroom.
Dr Gennadi Lessin, PML impact coordinator on ocean literacy and Co-PI of ProBleu, said:
“Ocean literacy is a vital area of our work. We are dedicated to promoting an understanding of the ocean's influence on our lives - and the impact that we as humans have on our ocean.”
“We want to inspire interest, foster emotional connections, and empower individuals to make informed decisions and changes in behaviour that contribute to the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of the ocean and water in general. As such, we’re proud to be a partner organisation of the ProBleu project.”
“Our children are the future – and with mechanisms like the network of Blue Schools we can share awareness and knowledge about these vital ecosystems and empower young individuals to become advocates for their protection and sustainable use.”
PML colleagues working on the project also include Prof Stefan Simis (Co-PI), Fiona Beckman, Michael Wathen, Darren Snee, Prof Kevin Flynn, Dr Ben O’Driscoll, and Dr Yaru Li, bringing together disciplines from across the organisation.
The main goal of the European Blue Schools Network is to disseminate the direct impact that aquatic ecosystems have on our quality of life. These ecosystems are crucial as they provide food resources, significantly contribute to atmospheric oxygen production, and act as climate regulators. Therefore, it is imperative to understand their functioning and actively promote their conservation to counteract the effects of climate change and preserve the valuable biodiversity they house.
“As one of six partners in ProBleu, PML's contribution to the project will have a significant impact on children and youth in primary and secondary schools across the EU and associated countries. PML will particularly develop teaching aids which interactively link educators and students to state-of-the-art marine and freshwater science, through observation technology, models and simulations.”
Could your school be a ‘blue school’?
Schools from EU and associated countries can apply for grants of up to €10,000 for projects lasting up to 12 months.
One of the main contributions from PML is the creation of a catalogue of educational resources for teachers, providing tailored access to current scientific insights of oceans and lakes. Educators are invited to configure these materials, sharing their own resources within the wider community. Furthermore, ProBleu will assist schools in developing local project activities using ‘citizen science’ tools to observe the environment, integrating their results into global research products related to the European Union's Mission "Restoring Our Oceans and Waters."
ProBleu is coordinated by the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC, Barcelona) and includes five more partners working together to ensure ProBleu's goal: Kaunas University of Technology (KTU, Lithuania), INOVA+ (Portugal), Earthwatch (United Kingdom), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML, United Kingdom), and National Marine Aquarium (OCT, United Kingdom).
ProBleu has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101113001, and from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee grant number 10082336.
Schools from the following countries can apply: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, the UK, and Ukraine.
The European Union’s Mission, "Restoring Our Oceans and Waters”, aims to protect and restore the health of aquatic ecosystems (seas, oceans, and continental waters) through research, innovation and citizen participation. This Mission will play a key role in achieving climate neutrality and restoring aquatic ecosystems. In this context, the international European project ProBleu was born, to expand and support the Network of European Blue Schools, to bring ocean knowledge into classrooms.
What is the Network of European Blue Schools?
The Network of European Blue Schools is an initiative of EU4Ocean, the European Ocean Coalition that connects diverse organisations, projects and people contributing to ocean literacy and the sustainable management of the ocean. EU4Ocean is the place where new ideas and joint actions come to life to make a bigger change. Supported by the European Commission, this bottom-up inclusive initiative aims at uniting the voices of Europeans to make the ocean a concern of everyone.
How are we connected to the ocean? All people on Earth are directly or indirectly connected to the ocean in a variety of ways: through what we eat, breathe and use, where we go on a holiday. The ocean is our planet's life support system - and it needs our protection. This Network of European Blue Schools aims to inspire teacher, school director or staff of education services, to challenge their students, from kindergarten, primary, lower and upper secondary, technical or vocational schools, to develop a “Find the blue” project that links them to the ocean or the sea. By successfully completing the project and sharing its results, schools will receive the European Blue School label. [Source: European Commission website]