19 January 2023

Heat From Dumpsites, Landfill Mapping, Vertical Greening: Nakhodka Schoolchildren Making the City a Better Place

Schoolchildren in Nakhodka are actively working on projects that will enhance the quality of life in the city. Such ideas as creating a map of unauthorized dumpsites in one of the neighborhoods, vertical greening of their own school, and converting plastic into thermal energy can all become reality through the “Formula for Success” contest organized by the Nakhodka Mineral Fertilizer Plant (NFP) with the support of the Nakhodka administration and the Information and Methodological Center “Razvitie”.

Improving the quality of life in Nakhodka and creating a comfortable urban environment is a top priority of NFP’s social policy. A comprehensive city development plan has already been developed and is being implemented, and the company actively participates not only in infrastructure renewal but also in shaping human capital. Supporting the initiatives of schoolchildren is an important element of the strategy, as it is the youth who can change their hometown for the better.

Among the entries of the “Formula for Success 2023” contest, there is a predominance of utilitarian projects. The schoolchildren have started studying the water and soil quality on the beaches of Vrangel, and evaluating the quality of gasoline at Nakhodka gas stations. Next, they will be exploring methods and technologies used in modern wastewater treatment facilities and proposing effective solutions for the economy and ecology of their hometown.

One of the practical ideas they are working on is creating an up-to-date map of unauthorized garbage dumpsites. This is the project undertaken by ninth-grade students from School 3.

“It is a labor-intensive task, so we decided to focus on our neighborhood, from the First Section to the Southern Microdistrict. The girls not only document the existence of the dumpsite but also calculate its volume, observe its dynamics, and mark it on the map. Even parents have joined the project, with one student’s father driving the girls across the city. We are aware that there is a similar map in the city’s environmental department, but our work will update the data. In the future, we can involve volunteers in cleaning the area or promptly identifying the new unauthorized dumpsites,” shared Valentina Chernikhova, the biology teacher and project supervisor.

The students from School 1 have chosen a topic that is relevant both to themselves and to the organizer of the contest, NFP: “Biological methods for treating methanol production wastewater.”

“The most effective biological method of wastewater treatment is using methylotrophic bacteria. Our project involves attempting to cultivate these bacteria and observing how they perform on mixtures with varying concentrations of carbon compounds. We plan for our work to serve as practical advice for NFP,” explained Elena Talashkevich, the project group leader and chemistry teacher.

Chemistry is featured in all the contest projects, but not all participants have already studied this subject in school. In this sense, “Formula for Success” has served as an introductory course to chemistry for middle school students – another benefit of NFP’s educational initiative.

The topic of the project by the 5th graders from School 10 is “The Impact of Automobile Traffic on Air Pollution.” We chose a location near the school, counted the number of cars passing by in the morning, afternoon, and evening, studied the direction and speed of the wind, and calculated the level of carbon dioxide using reference materials. The children haven’t studied chemistry yet, so it’s challenging for them, but they find it very interesting. In addition to the main topic, they have also noticed related aspects. For example, they observed that the ground floors of buildings in the neighborhood are below the road level. Undoubtedly, this affects not only the air pollution outdoors but also inside the apartments. Perhaps in the future, we will further develop this topic,” said the teacher Tatyana Pabolkova.

It should be noted that over 160 schoolchildren in two age categories (grades 5-8 and 9-11) are participating in this year’s “Formula for Success” contest. The students are assisted by mentors and experts: employees of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Far Eastern Federal University, and Nakhodka Mineral Fertilizer Plant.