“Porți deschise spre Geografie” - Open Gates to Geography

  •  Romania, Romania
  •   2019
Time frame
  • Annual Activity
  • Career Orientation
  • Creative STEAM (STEM + Arts)
  • Non-Formal Education
  • Conditions for Learning
Level of Schools
  • Primary School
  • Lower Secondary School
  • Upper Secondary School
External Partners
  • NGO
  • Public Authority
Type of Schools
  • In Autumn 2019, all schools and high schools in Bucharest have been informed on our school year schedule of lectures and workshops for pupils. All interested teachers to bring their pupils to the faculty have registered at least 5 days before each meeting. The participating schools are public and private middle and high schools, having a general study profile or being specialized in arts, tourism or technology.
Number of Schools involved
  • 20
Number of Schoolheads involved
  • 20
Number of Teachers involved
  • 35
Number of Students involved
  • 370
Number of Parents involved
  • 10
Number of External Partners involved
  • 2
Short Description

“Open Gates to Geography” represents an educational concept which facilitates the access of children and youth to academia. A team of university teachers within the Faculty of Geography adapted academic lectures, created the workshops’ design, and provided the necessary didactic means to teach pupils between 11 and 18 years old. The most used methods of information have the aim to actively involve the pupils within the learning process: problem solving, brainstorming, collecting and processing of geographical information, direct observations, discovery and field practical activities for the assessment of certain environmental parameters.


Aim: raising the connection of school pupils with the university environment; dissemination of scientific information to young people; familiarizing them with the modern means and methods of research; modeling the favorable attitude for lifelong learning.

Objectives: (1) Improving the geographical knowledge of at least 350 school pupils (11-18 years old); (2) The formation of a team of 20 university teachers within the Faculty of Geography (25% of the total) who adapt the academic lectures, create the workshops’ design, and provide the necessary didactic means to teach the small geography enthusiasts; (3) Conducting regular (once a week) lectures and workshops for school pupils within the Faculty of Geography.


The project started in Autumn 2019 and it will end in the summer of 2020. For the next Autumn, after starting again a new university year, and given the suggestions of the participants, we intend to diversify the themes of these lectures and workshops. The project represents the result of our previous similar experiences which frequently included, in the last two decades, activities dedicated to pupils: training courses, workshops, and summer schools. We want to continue this project as it represents an efficient and free method of making stronger our connection with the school teaching environment while it may ensure us a larger group of interested and informed candidates for attending the Faculty of Geography as students in the future. One of the problems that our staff identified in the recent years was represented by the school abandonment within the first university year at a rate of even 20% of the total number of accepted students. This project has the role to increase the number of faculty candidates but it also aims at better informing the future students on the challenges of the academia. We hope that we will gradually decrease the school abandonment rate for the first university year.


The methodology includes the conversion of geography academic lectures and research workshops into non- formal activities destined to pupils between 11 and 18 years old in order to increase their attraction for permanent knowledge, discovery and learning. The most used methods of information have the aim to actively involve the pupils within the learning process: problem solving, brainstorming, collecting and processing of geographical information, direct observations, discovery, field practical activities for the assessment of certain environmental parameters.
After a long term partnership with Asociatia Universtitatea Copiilor – Children’s University UniCo (since the very beginning in 2010) there have been every year more and more workshops for young people in the Faculty of Geography. There are professors that ware involved every year in this activity and gained a lot of experience in the science communication for young people. On another hand, the participants showed every year a growing interest for the content that the Faculty of Geography offers.


There are no costs for organizing the activities. The material basis for the activities is offered by the Faculty of Geography and the additional materials are provided by each university teacher or researcher with personal funding. Costs are insignificant.


The aim is to bring together the geographical academic research and the middle and high school pupils with a high enthusiasm for this science had very good echoes within dozens of schools. If during the first weeks the participation to this activity was relatively modest (15-20 pupils), within only 2-3 weeks, the number of attendees has tripled which conducted to the need to include previous registrations (at least 5 days before each meeting) and even the rescheduling of some groups. The interest of the pupils for the proposed activities is conditioned by: their fascination for the academic environment which they want to attend after finishing high school; their passion for geography; their previous or planned participation to school competitions and school Olympics. These meetings with the academia representatives give the pupils the opportunity to develop their knowledge, to get familiarized with modern methods of collection and processing the geographical information, and to study new themes of interest. The attending pupils are accompanied by their geography teachers who benefit as well by an update of their scientific knowledge in the field (they have also an increased enthusiasm for these activities). The connections created during the activities have resulted also in collaborations of pupils with university teachers for documenting certain topics or to realize some individual research projects.


Open Gates to Geography represents an educational concept which facilitates the access of children and youth to the academia. The Faculty of Geography, University of Bucharest, had different punctual events dedicated to children and youth during the years, but their increasing interest determined us to find a way to organize permanent meetings between them and the university teachers beyond our participation to the Children’s University – UniCo program since 2010. We have created a group of volunteer university teachers which have established scientific topics of general interest (climate changes, sustainable development, risk phenomena etc.) or topics related to the school curricula. Then, we have created a module of lectures and workshops in relation with their scientific concerns but also given the topics of interest for the students. In the same time, the implementation team gained new skills by converting the academic scientific content into attractive topics for pupils while being presented through non-formal methods.

Didactical Concept

The learning activities offered through our program have the role to complete the formal education that the pupils receive at school and high school. The opening of certain academic topic to the young public and its attraction for the university environment represent the constant elements of this didactic concept. Pupils enter the academia and they have the occasion to know the places and the university teachers, and to use the modern means and methods of geographical research, but also to deepen their knowledge of interest. The curriculum offered by the Faculty of Geography consists of two major types of activities: academic lectures based on a permanent and active interaction with the audience; and workshops of small teams of children who have the occasion to learn through action, to use the means of data collecting (equipment for collecting samples of air, water; drones for capturing geographical information) and the means of data processing and interpretation. The content of lectures and workshops include different geographical areas of study: meteorology, climatology, pedology, geomorphology, biogeography, social geography, territorial planning, cultural geography, tourism, regional geography. The used teaching and learning methods are based on the action of pupils: experimentation, problem solving, brainstorming, and discovery. The lectures include larger groups of pupils (30-50 people) and the workshops are dedicated to smaller groups (10-15 pupils).


Young people and children have the occasion to meet the academia, researchers and university teachers which may develop a stronger motivation for their future training and even for their choice of geographical university studies. While participating to lectures and workshops, the University becomes a tangible objective for them. They have the opportunity to know and understand the fact that geography is not a simple qualitative and encyclopedic science. Geography is a quantitative, analytical and pragmatic science which can offer, through its research analysis and results, viable solutions to current and future economic, social, cultural, geopolitical and environmental issues.

Practice Orientation

For the workshops we proposed in our curriculum, the pupils work within small groups (10-15 people), they use equipment for collecting environmental data (for the assessment of air and water quality), they use drones, they stock and process the data captured with the drones, and they use computers for collecting and computing data or satellite images through a package of GIS tools.


The partnership between the Faculty of Geography and the Association of Geography Students, the participating schools and the School Inspectorate is not a written and signed one. The partnership is based on older collaborations which involved an increasing trust while developing different mutual activities for the pupils. The start of our project required only informing all partners and their involvement was quick and unconditional.

Mutual Learning

The partnership between the Faculty of Geography and the Association of Geography Students, the participating schools and the School Inspectorate is not a written and signed one. The partnership is based on older collaborations which involved an increasing trust while developing different mutual activities for the pupils. The start of our project required only informing all partners and their involvement was quick and unconditional.


The pupils attending the activities are between 11 and 18 years old.
The volunteering students supporting the activities are between 18 and 24 years old.
The project activities are supported by teachers and researchers within the Faculty of Geography who are between 28 and 60 years old.
School teachers who are accompanying the pupils to the activities are between 27 and 60 years old.


The lectures and workshops are open to pupils from our partner schools no matter of their social environment, race, gender or minority group.

Ethical Aspects

The activities are in correlation with the academic ethics: respect for the environment, the proper use of scientific and data references, the use of licensed software, compliance with the norms of research ethics.


Most of the activities within the project are interdisciplinary. The pupils may so that understand that geography is not an isolated science but it uses investigation means and methods which are specific to biology, physics, chemistry or mathematics, in order to explain such phenomena as: ecosystem degradation, urban malfunctions, climate or geomorphological risks, and to find proper solutions to manage their impact. Information technology and software have also an important role in all stages of geographical research for organizing and processing the collected data.


The pupils attending the activities organized by the Faculty of Geography have the opportunity to further use, within their formal educational activity, most of the received information – some examples of topics we developed and related disciplines are: lichens as bio-indicators, bio-monitors, and signs of bio-deterioration (biology); Roma communities and their social integration (civic education); extreme meteorological events (physics); assessment of environmental quality (chemistry).


Each partner is informed on the proposed activities and it is encouraged to contribute to their proper development. Our partners have the opportunity to get involved together with the Faculty of Geography by bringing together their own staff (school teachers and volunteers) in order to contribute to promoting the project and to institutionally use furthermore the whole experience of interaction with the academia.

Qualitative assessment Inclusiveness

The workshops focused on collecting geographical data (using the drone and the equipment to measure the air and water quality) take place only within the perimeter of the University building, in the city center of Bucharest. The pupils have so that the occasion to assess the quality of the urban environment within the city center and they are taught to identified the environmental malfunctions and the urban planning issues while they are encouraged to think of proper solutions to reduce the encountered problems.


The Faculty of Geography has proposed this program of lectures and workshops and the partner schools have chosen the teachers who can accompany the pupils to the proposed activities. All pupils were informed but their participation takes place on a voluntary basis. The volunteers of the Association of Geography Students are informed in time on the total number of the weekly attendees and they set up, within their organization, each team to be helping the pupils and the university teachers during the activities.


The vice-dean responsible with student issues is the person coordinating the activities, having a continuous dialogue with the university teachers for choosing the proper topics to be presented, while he makes suggestions on the methodology and means to be used with the pupils.

Digital Citizenship

The use of digital means for providing and processing the information represents an essential element of these lectures and workshops while the pupils admit the fact that they are attracted to the proposed activities especially because we have dynamic lectures and we use explanatory clips, computer simulations, and software solutions for processing and modeling the geographical information.

Cooperation Quality

Cooperation between partners is essential for the well developing of the activities. Over the years, with the occasion of smaller projects, the Faculty of Geography developed trusty and good understanding relations with its partners and, even if the persons with whom we collaborate are different from a period to another, the involved institutions (the school inspectorate, the school managements, the students of the Association of Geography Students) are continuously connected to and supporting us. We are convinced that this project will develop over a long period of time and that it will become a mark for the geographical training of youth in this region of Romania.

Role of External Partners

The external partners have given support in promoting and organizing the activities. Partners for the lectures and workshops dedicated to school pupils were:
1. Association of Geography Students (Asociația Studenților Geografi) – support in organizing the activities and during the meeting with the pupils.
2. Participating schools – they have formed teams of pupils and teachers to participate to the activities.
3. The General School Inspectorate of Bucharest – promotion for the program of lectures and workshops for the pupils.

Institutional Learning

University of Bucharest and the Faculty of Geography have experimented, during the years, different forms of bringing school pupils within the amphitheaters for getting them familiarized with the academic research. Other previous experiences include: open lectures, educational fairs, summer camps, and intensive learning modules, all of them being organized together with other entities in the educational field (school inspectorates, NGOs). From the previous activities, we have been highly aware of the pupils’ needs and expectations in relation to the academia so that we have focused on the topics of interest for which we can bring relevant information in addition to the formal school education.


There is a team including the vice-dean on student issues and a secretary. The team is permanently involved in: designing the curriculum; informing the faculty teachers and asking them for the topics which they want to present to the pupils; establishing the annual program of activities; organizing the volunteering teams; informing the partner institutions; registering the pupils and schools to the activities; making the participation certificates; promoting the project information on the faculty website and Facebook page. This team works with the permanent support of the faculty management and of the participating university teachers in order to solve all problems which may appear during the process.


After each activity, the coordinator of the implementation team collects the feedback of the participating pupils and school teachers. In most cases, the university teachers who give a lecture also distribute feedback sheets to the participants in order to gather their impressions on the content and suggestions for improving the presented topics and the used methods. The interest of the participants was constantly increasing and this was reflected in the raising numbers of participants from one week to another.


The program of the lectures and workshops, a short description of the developed topics, the appropriate age group and the maximum number of participants are offered by the university teachers and researchers involved within the project. All this information is permanently published on the faculty website (www.geo. unibuc.ro) and it can be accessed by any participant. Every university teacher may elaborate additional promotion materials for any specific activity in order to distributive to the pupils.