Innovations in Environmental Education Helping students learn by employing multiple perspectives
One outstanding water education programme is called “Project WET”, an initiative which originated in the US and is now being delivered in a Taiwan nature park and with the support of an American environmental education society. The target audience of this programme is broad, ranging from kindergarten children to high school students. Participants not only learn a lot about water, the programme also strengthens their communication and leadership skills and improves their ability to express themselves. The programme focuses on providing innovative, first-hand, practical experience to these young people. While they are taught important facts about water conservation, they also get to experience the fun side of this essential natural resource.
Project WET provides a variety of activities in several different formats. From large group activities to small group learning, the participants use their whole body and all their senses to experience and learn about the topic at hand. The participants are also required to conduct on-site hands-on experiments, discuss local and global environmental issues and perform various community service activities. Experiential learning activities like conducting research in different types of water also give these young people an impressive learning experience.
As the programme aims to provide a holistic view of this natural resource, the content covers the physics and chemistry of water, water quality and provision, ecology and aquatic organisms, and the management of water resources. Each part of the content is examined through the lens of the inter-relationship between humans and water.
Unlike the traditional “one-way” teaching method, Project WET emphasizes the importance of critical thinking and problem solving skills – skills which are crucial to the development of a person’s environmental education. If we want our children to become the wise water-users of the next generation, we need to train them to think critically about their demand and usage of this natural resource today. As a subject, water is an excellent integration tool which can form the basis of lessons for several different school subjects – chemistry, physics, science, history and cultural studies to name a few.
As WWF’s educators, our most important role in helping to build a future in which humans live in harmony with the natural world is helping students link their personal knowledge, experiences, feelings and actions to real life and the real world. Programmes like Project WET help educators like us achieve this goal.