Educational activities in a European geopark and new tools for earth heritage interpretation - The Lesvos Petrified Forest - Greece as a case study

Category Tectonic & Seismotectonic
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Zouros, Nickolas۱; Mpentana, Kostantina۲; Valiakos, Ilias۲; Vasileiadou, Katerina۲; Kyriazi, Evaggelia۲
Holding Date 15 September 2008

The European Geoparks Network - EGN, is founded in 2000, aiming to advance earth heritage conservation and promotion, education in earth sciences, as well as sustainable local development through geotourism.
Educational activities exist in the core of the Geoparks’ interest and operation. The European Geoparks are open-air geological museums and can contribute significantly to environmental education programmes offering excellent examples for the interaction between the abiotic and biotic parameters in natural ecosystems. They constitute natural outdoor laboratories where children can investigate Earth sciences.
The Petrified Forest of Lesvos (Greece), declared as a protected natural monument in 1985, is a founding member of the EGN. Its creation is directly related to the volcanic activity in the North-eastern Aegean area during late Oligocene - middle Miocene. Systematic excavations and scientific research has been carried out by the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest since 1997 in main fossil sites. The abundance of standing and lying petrified tree trunks and the perfect preservation of the fossils lead to the creation of a new inventory for fossil plants and volcanic geosites.
This database was also used as the source of information for the development of new educational activities and tools, such as the educational CD-ROM "The Petrified Forest of Lesvos", the Museum kit on fossil preservation, the Museum kit "The Deinotheres" and special educational programmes aiming to support Earth heritage interpretation and communication.
The educational CD-ROM is based on the scenario of two children from Lesvos finding notes about the Petrified Forest and beginning an attempt to discover the secret of the Forest. Information on the Petrified Forest, the volcanic activity in the Aegean area and conservation of plant fossils are included in the application. Numerous games aim to entertain and, at the same time, educate children, whereas several photographs offer a virtual trip to the unique monument. The fossil conservation Museum kit aims to familiarise teenagers with the sensitive nature of fossils and provide basic knowledge on their conservation and restoration. Developed by the Conservation Department of the Museum, it includes booklets, information material and conservation-based educational activities. The Museum kit "The Deinotheres" is based on the important finding in the area of the Petrified Forest of a primitive proboscidean belonging to the extinct family Deinotheriidae. The kit, designed for children in the last years of high school, includes activities that urge children to identify fossils and use them as tools for reconstructing the past, as well as books on proboscidean evolution and their presence in Greece.
The main purpose of the educational tools is to help children (and adults) to understand nature and its mechanisms, so that they can feel a part of it and appreciate its complexity.