STEM ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROGRAM
IN POMAK VILLAGES AND THE WIDER AREA OF XANTHI
The Pomaks are an ethnic minority group that has experienced geographical and cultural isolation. Thirty-five thousand members of this group live in villages in Thrace, Greece, a location characterized by unique natural environment and biodiversity.
The extracurricular STEM environmental education program, "EcosySTEM | Bridges of Science," which commenced in September 2021, was designed with primary objectives to empower the student community of the Pomaks, alleviate their social isolation, and raise awareness among students in the wider Xanthi area about climate change, the utilization of renewable energy sources, and the preservation of the region's natural wealth.
SciCo team traveled to the villages of Xanthi, familiarized themselves with the local community, and implemented the program using science as "a neutral language" with the ultimate goal of creating "bridges" of communication and cooperative relationships between students from the mountainous villages and students from the city of Xanthi.
Specifically, students aged 10-16, through organized workshops, were tasked with identifying environmental and/or social challenges within their community. Subsequently, using STEM education tools (such as programming tools, specialized sensors, and 3D printing), they were asked to propose solutions to address these challenges. This approach created a safe and unrestricted space for education, reinforcing a collaborative climate and students' skills.
Simultaneously with the implementation of the educational program, a documentary was created to cover the project's implementation, aiming to amplify its impact and further sensitize more people about the issues faced by the Pomak villages.
SciCo organized and implemented the project "Development of environmental awareness through STEM education for students of Pomakochoria and the wider region of Xanthi, Greece" under the action "Innovative Actions with Citizens" of the Green Fund, which is briefly referred as "EcosySTEM | Science Bridges" in collaboration with the Athena Research Center and funded by the National Geographic, the Green Fund in Greece, and The Hellenic Initiative/The Venture Impact Award.