We were going to a Russian the school for a visit. I was thinking about a connection to learning that would be interesting to students, teachers and the community. The city of Saint Petersburg is on the Neva River.
The Neva (Russian: Нева́, IPA: [nʲɪˈva]) is a river in northwestern Russia flowing from Lake Ladoga through the western part of Leningrad Oblast (historical region of Ingria) to the Neva Bay of the Gulf of Finland. Despite its modest length (74 km), it is the third largest river in Europe in terms of average discharge (after theVolga and the Danube).
The Neva is the only river flowing from Lake Ladoga. It flows through the city Saint Petersburg, three smaller towns of Shlisselburg, Kirovsk and Otradnoye, and dozens of settlements. The river is navigable throughout and is part of the Volga–Baltic Waterway and White Sea – Baltic Canal. It is a site of numerous major historical events.
Baltic Sea ?
The Baltic Sea drainage basin consists of 14 countries; Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany and Denmark. Except sea water from the Atlantic, most of the water comes from rivers. The sea receives surface water drainage from 5 countries; Belarus, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Norway and Ukraine.
The Baltic Sea is connected to the North Sea through narrow straits. The Danish straits are shallow and narrow. There is a shallow threshold in these straits so the heavy seawater can’t easily stream to the Baltic sea. On the contrary there is usually a stream of sweetwater to the Atlantic.
Because the Baltic Sea water is neither sweetwater nor saltwater it is called crackish water. Because of this speciality in the saltcontent of the water, the Baltic Sea ecosystem is very vulnerable.
There is a museum of water science here.
|It’s easy to see where the concept for this museum came from. According to Peter the Great’s plans for the city, it was specifically water that would join the city of St. Petersburg with Europe and, by filling its canals, turn this marshy site into the ‘Venice of the North’.
Museum of Water located in an old water tower
St. Petersburg’s Museum of Water is located in a former water-tower, and was presented to the city by local water monopoly Vodokanal as part of the 300th Anniversary celebrations. The water-tower, built in 1860 by Ivan Merts and Ernest Shuberskiy, was the first in St. Petersburg and marked the start of a proper water supply to the city, and now it houses a unique museum that uses the latest in exhibition technology.
The exhibition is modern, hi-tech and hands-on. Visitors can, among other things, try their hand at assembling a plumbing system, operate pumps and learn about the workings of the dam and steam engine which pumps the water in the tower. Here you can see everything to do with the provision and processing of water in the city, from its founding to the present day, including antique toilets and state-of-the-art purification systems.
Statue of water carrier in front of the Museum of Water
Collections of the Museum of Water
Water Museum exhibits
Inside the Museum of Water
The Museum of Water and was opened 28 May 2003, and the exhibition itself was designed by the Russian Museum and architect Evgeny Podgornov, who equipped the tower with a glass elevator and smart exterior lighting which has made the tower a distinctive feature on the Neva Embankment. The tower also has an observation platform with excellent views over the river, and a pretty garden, both of which have already become extremely popular with the city’s inhabitants and visitors. The tower also houses temporary exhibitions, conferences and seminars.
I saw thinking about that as a connection as we all think about water as an issue or world problem. There are projects and ideas that can be done by any group. But, I had no information about the river. I had talked to my Russian cohort about water, the Baltic Sea, and how I work with children teaching about the Chesapeake Bay from the National Geographic and the Smithsonian Educational Research Center. We talked community, collaboration and we were exploring ideas we had in common that may turn into a project.The Neva River is a part of St. Petersburg’s charm and there is a connection that we had in the study of water.
The River Neva
So I found that there is a museum that had been given the Baltic Prize in Russia for its work that is a Heritage Site. Michael arranged for me to visit the site and learn about his work with the NGO to help students learn.
When Sara said we could walk across the bridge over the river, it was to me just an interesting thought. I was not sure that she really meant it. The bridge is across the Neva River. You know, it’s winter. The river is frozen over, this wide expanse of water has ice breakers that clear a path. So I thought, well, it will be a way of experiencing the elements and getting a different experience.
People usually talk about the white nights, not the white ice. So I was game to walk the bridge across the river. Actually we also returned by the bridge. I learned from the taxi driver about the white nights.
White Nights in St. Petersburg or Beliye Nochi
From late May to early July the nights are bright in St Petersburg, with the brightest period,the White Nights, normally lasting from June 11th to July 2nd.
The White Nights are a curious phenomenon caused by St. Petersburg’s very northerly geographical location- at 59 degrees 57′ North (roughly on the same latitude as Oslo, Norway, the southern tip of Greenland and Seward, Alaska). St. Petersburg is the world’s most northern city with a population over 1 million, and its stands at such a high latitude that the sun does not descend below the horizon enough for the sky to grow dark.In fact night becomes curiously indistinguishable from day, so much so that the authorities never need to turn the city’s streetlights on during this time. That must be amazing to watch.
But watching ice form is not quite so , romantic.
Walk over the bridge we did. It was an amazing experience to look down that vast expanse of frozen ice and to get a panoramic view of the city.
There were foot prints on the ice, in lots of places , and only a few places where their was open water. There is they say , an icebreaker that comes up and down the river, but I only saw its channel , where it broke the ice the last time that it came through.
It was cold. C O L D! I thought about the Jack London stories as we walked, so then the wind was not so bad. Most people were in cars. There was a thin film of ice but no one seemed bothered by it. A man was fixing something on the bridge where it opened. I looked down once or twice through the cracks but then decided not to… carefully , I walked on the support sides of the walkway.( Long way down.)
No other bridge traffic… on foot. No birds, just smoke stacks belching into the sky plumes of smoke in puffy spirals on the distant side of the river. I think there was a bridge loo. Not sure for whom.
I was told that at night in the summer, bridges are open most of the night until 4 in the morning and that people come to see the boat traffic along the Neva. The Baltic Sea traffic. It is a quicker route this way…
We scampered down the steps… after walking over, there was ice, sometimes then we walked arm in arm, and most of the time we forgot about the cold. I was worrying about the film of ice to the cross walk and then there were huge buildings and we came to the school. My face was feeling frozen but I was well dressed for the cold. except for my face.