Knowledge and spirit of competition meet in the forest game
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Knowledge and spirit of competition meet in the forest game

Latvia, 26th April 2018
Author: Līga Abizāre, Latvia’s State Forests (LVM), Latvia

O n 26 April, guided by determination and curiosity, school students from all over Latvia met in the finals of LVM Forest Game 2018 not only to fight for victory, but also to acquire new knowledge about the forest.

The competition was held in two parts. In the first part, the students' knowledge and ability to work in a team were tested in active and educational orienteering competitions, while in the second part the participants demonstrated their performances. The participants found the task to keep the balance to be the most challenging one. In turn, the toughest question was the one concerning the recognition of lignin, which is used as a binder in a number of everyday items. The participants were especially enthusiastic about the task to recognize wild animals, their footprints, as well as proper placement of plates with the names of female animals, male animals and babies.

The jury consisted of representatives of different organisations: Māra Mīkule, Senior Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Forest, Forest Sector Strategy and Support Division, Pauls Beķeris, JSC "Latvijas Finieris" Public Relations Specialist, Dagnija Lazdiņa, Senior Researcher at the Latvian State Forest Research Institute "Silava", and Inaida Jagučanska and Inese Namniece, Environmental Educational Specialists at LVM Nature Park in Tērvete. Team performances were assessed with points in the following categories: the relevance of the creative work to the topic "Forest is Our Garden and We are Gardeners", involvement of team members, and creative approach to the demonstration of the performance. Each LVM Forest Game team stood out with a special feature – some had paid extra attention to their appearance, while others chose to create unique songs or narratives in the form of poetry.

The 1st place and the main prize – a week-long environmental expedition to Austria was awarded to the team "Vides pētnieki" representing Aizpute Secondary School, which is this year's Mother Nature Embassy in Dienvidkurzeme Region. The 2nd place was awarded to the team "Meža skudras" representing Irlava Secondary School, and the third place to the team “Imperium Silva” of Aizkraukle Municipality Secondary School.

JSC "Latvijas Finieris" Choice Award for creative performance was awarded to the team "Možie" representing Krāslava Primary School.

"A very well organized event! We liked the orienteering best - the questions were tough, yet very educational. The most difficult thing for us was to recognize the seeds and keep the balance on the slackline. To get ready for the tasks, we got acquainted with the study films, prepared our performance. The children were busy getting ready for the event even when on the bus to Tērvete. We are very happy and satisfied with the first place," says Vika Vasiļevska, a teacher at Aizpute Secondary School.

Certificates of recognition and commemorative prizes were awarded to all finalists: the team "8. klase" (Carnikava Primary School), "Sprunguļi" (Nikrāce Primary School), "Možie" (Krāslava Primary School), "Lielie Gailīši" (Ventspils Secondary School No. 4), "Meža meistari" (Jelgava Secondary School No. 6), "Čiekuri" (Jelgava Primary School No. 2), and "Veiklie pētnieki" (Ventspils Secondary School No. 4).

While the jury was discussing and deciding the results, the creative team "Mārtiņa bubuli" (Mārtiņš' Bubbles) showed magnificent demonstrations to the participants of the LVM Forest Game. Also the students tried to blow up the unusually large bubbles. To make the soap bubbles particularly durable, they are made of liquid pulp, which is only one of the many wood products that we use in our daily life.

LVM Forest Game is an annual event, which is organised by JSC "Latvia's State Forests" in collaboration with the National Centre for Education. It is organised to promote creative and healthy learning outdoors, as well as to raise school students' awareness of the Latvian largest renewable resource – the forest.

In LVM Forest Game school students are asked to think of a new outdoor educational game about the forest and to play it together with their classmates outdoors, using natural materials. The teams have to describe the rules of the game and create a one-minute long video guide, showing the course of the game. Ten best teams, chosen by the jury and Facebook users, participate in the finals of the Forest Game that take place in LVM Nature Park in Tērvete.

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