Plastic Poses Problems for Mother Earth

Week 16 was national thrift week in Finland culminating in Earth Day on Saturday, the 22nd of April. In the spirit of Earth Day, English Class sixth graders visited the Ark/Luontotalo Arkki on Thursday to learn about plastic as a pollutant on Earth. The programme was organized by Pori’s Waste Advisory Centre (Porin seudeun jäteneuvonta). The sixth graders learned that plastic will be with us pretty much forever, although plastic has only been around since the 1950’s. Through their guide, Merika, the pupils learned about dumps or landfills and how easily plastic eventually finds its way into waterways from seepage and helped by the wind.

What makes plastics so harmful to humans, animal and plant life and our environment is that they’re non-biodegradable. It only starts degrading in 700 years. This means that all the plastic that has ever been produced has not degraded yet. 

Even when it degrades, it doesn’t turn into some other form that gets absorbed by nature. It photo-degrades, which means it only breaks down into smaller toxic bits of itself. It’s forever there. Pollution from plastic affects the air, land and oceans.              ~Source:

The sixth graders also learned that by washing clothes made of synthetic fibres, such as fleece and polyester, hundreds of thousands of microplastic particles are released into the environment through waste water. Although our waster water is processed at a water treatment plant, there is no existing filtration system that catches microplastic. That means that animals and humans are ingesting microplastic to some extent.

By taking proactive measures, we can lessen the harmful impact plastic has on the environment. We need to remember the 6 R’s:

  1. We can reduce our use of plastic.
  2. We can redesign products made with plastic to be made into better, new plastic products.
  3. We can remove plastic from products and substitute other materials.
  4. We can re-use products made with plastic.
  5. We can recycle items made of plastic.
  6. We can also recover objects made from plastic.

The bright green shopping bag in the photo collages above is a good example of recycling, recovering and redesigning. The shopping bag is made of plastic bottles that have been recovered and then redesigned to become a shopping carrier bag.

Before leaving to return to school, English Class sixth graders toured the natural history museum and spotted litter here and there throughout the exhibition. Our guide, Janne, pointed out that a common chocolate Easter egg is not at all environmentally friendly to Earth. The outer covering is aluminum foil which needs to be disposed of with metal waste. Chocolate, or the cocoa from which it is made, is not always ethically grown or grown in a way that sustains the environment. Furthermore, there is plastic inside the hollow egg! On their way back to school pupils were encouraged to look for examples of plastic that were harmful  to the environment and aesthetically. It was an enlightening field trip!

Heureka! Look at this!

English Class fifth graders and their teacher, Mr. Gregg, visited Heureka Science Centre in Vantaa on Thursday. The all day field trip is an annual activity for fifth graders at Cygnaeus and is sponsored by Cygnaeus School’s Parents’ Association. Much of what the fifth graders saw and experienced ties in directly with the new curriculum for fifth graders.

Play is the highest form of research,” declared Albert Einstein, and indeed that is what is proclaimed on the home page of Heureka Science Centre’s website. The science centre is carefully designed to emphasize the joy of discovery. The main exhibition includes favourites like the tightrope bicycle, the Foucault pendulum and hands-on information about making coins. There are countless classic exhibits where phenomena of physics and the natural world can be explored: buoyancy, simple machines, laws of motion, viscosity, light, electricity and so much, much more.

The Body Worlds, Animals Inside Out exhibit exposes what lies under the feathers, fur, skin or hide of animals. The Intelligent City exhibit addresses communication, technology and the infrastructure of tomorrow’s cities. Under Cover is an exhibit that demonstrates how the various camouflaging techniques of animals can be applied to military technology and know-how. Wind in the Bowels is a popular fun approach to demonstrating aspects of the human digestive system. Pupils were also able to participate in a laboratory session where they investigated acids and bases.

Join the fifth graders as they explore Heureka Science Centre in the video below.

Underbar Övning: Peer-to-Peer in Swedish

The English Classes hosted a TET/work experience student from Sweden for a couple of days this past week. Here is what she wrote about herself:


My name is Saana and I am doing my TET/2-day work experience here at your school on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. I live in Bollnäs, Sweden. During these two days I have cleaned and straightened for the teacher by filing papers in folders and binders. I taught the sixth graders some Swedish. I also taught the third graders a little Swedish.     

At my school in Bollnäs we just got our report cards and I am in the sixth grade. In Finland number grades are already given in the fourth grade. In Sweden we don’t get graded until the sixth grade. We don’t get number grades; we get letters, A – F.

It was really fun getting to know your school. I would like to come again. Thank you for this opportunity.

Our English Class sixth graders started studying Swedish for the first time this year. Under the guidance of their teacher, Ms. Anneli, they prepared questions for Saana. It was the very best kind of practice for the sixth graders because they were able to hone their language skills through practical immersion with someone their own age. Together they could compare and contrast, and realize all that they have in common with one another.

Saana also taught the English Class third graders some words in Swedish. The third graders were very eager to practice their new vocabulary.

Active Bodies, Active Minds: Physical Activities for All

English Class first, second, third and fourth graders received invitations to participate in physical activities at the sports centre on Tuesday of this week. The event was organized as part of the the national Finnish Schools on the Move programme put into action by the town of Pori. Pitkis-Sport was instrumentally involved in the implementation of the day’s plentiful, diverse activities.

In the two photo collages above English Class third graders are practicing skills related to baseball, football techniques and relay skills.

All of the pupils had a chance to hone balancing abilities with a wobbling balance disc and scooters.

English Class fourth graders enthusiastically threw themselves into all of the activities available.  They are practicing long jumping and hockey skills as shown in the photo collage above.

A rousing game of football got the fourth graders moving rapidly up and down the mini-football pitch.

Field hockey and frisbee golf were very popular with all of the classes.

The English Class second graders played field hockey with great determination and a very positive spirit.

The second graders could show off their strengths when they played football and practiced baseball using a scaled-down football in an activity called tunnel ball.

The English Class first graders showed spirit and fitness on the football field. They played with great energy!

In the photo collage above you can see first graders practicing defensive playing skills in the upper left corner in the hockey box. The players tried to block other players from getting their ball through a hole in their designated holes while trying to score a point by getting a ball into an opponent’s hole. The sun was shining, even if the wind was a bit chilly. Fun was had by all and lots of new things were learned.


Researching Animals Throughout Europe

English Class fifth graders are presently learning about Europe’s geography, its countries, climates, vegetation and culture. To learn about animals found in Europe, the fifth graders worked with a partner to research the habitat and life cycle of a particular animal.

Using their Chromebooks, each pair of pupils researched e.g., the diet of their animal,  its means of procuring food, its range and reproductive cycle.

The pupils compiled the information they gathered, along with pictures of the animal, to make a triarama or self-standing 3-panel display.

The animals the children researched represented examples of wildlife in the tundra, coniferous forests, deciduous forests, the steppes, and the Mediterranean area.

A project like this affords pupils practice creating search terms, comparing information sources, taking notes and presentation skills.

”Happy Easter!” via Our Easter Mural!

This year’s Easter mural is as complete as it is ever going to be. The mural has entailed lots of work by all of the English Classes. Our pupils created loads of delightful chicks, bunnies, eggs and Easter flowers for the mural, so many in fact, that this year everything didn’t fit on the mural! Look at all of the detail the children included in their work in the close-up pictures below.

The benefits of making murals are many-fold. Not only do murals beautify the corridor and enhance our school environment, they bring us together with a common goal. The good will and collaboration of mixed-aged groups of pupils working together gives us a sense of pride in our work. It is always gratifying to hear pupils pointing out their own contributions to family members, teachers, friends and classmates.

On that note, we would like to wish our blog readers a very Happy Easter or Spring break. School will begin again on Tuesday, April 18th.

SAMK Physiotherapy Students Take Third Graders to Boot Camp!

Back in September students from the English bachelor degree programme in physiotherapy at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) met with the English Class (EC) third graders to get to know one another.  Recently they met twice more as part of their practical training programme. Yesterday, at their third session together, the SAMK physiotherapist students put the EC third graders through their paces at an imaginary boot camp. The SAMK students had put a great deal of thought and effort into planning and carrying out the boot camp activities.

There was lots of smiling and good will as physiotherapist students from Mexico, Sri Lanka, Italy, China, Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, France and Finland guided and encouraged English Class third graders (who hail from eg., Germany, Mexico, Argentina, Estonia, Australia and Finland) through the maze of activities.

All types of muscle groups were used as pupils, ran, climbed, leapt, pulled, dashed, threw, caught, rode, balanced, crawled, squatted, crab-walked, hung and swung and worked their way through the activity course.

An enormous amount of planning by the SAMK students bore fruit, as the third graders enjoyed themselves tremendously.

The challenges created by the physiotherapy students were at exactly the right level for these healthy active third graders.

The boot camp session culminated in a restful cooling down period where SAMK students gently helped the third graders relax by massaging them to soothing background piano music played by one of the SAMK students. -The perfect end to a brilliant boot camp!