Partnering to educate a new green generation
From the start, students and teachers from these partner schools were committed to being part of our team of citizen scientists, carrying out surveys on the flora and fauna of the Deep Bay wetlands and updating the species list to reflect the current state of biodiversity in Hong Kong’s wetlands. A total of 450 citizen scientists conducted surveys in Mai Po Nature Reserve over the project’s two year span, both during the day and at night.
“It was a benthic (sub-surface) research study. I’ll never forget what happened when we first arrived at the Reserve’s mangrove strand. As soon as we stepped onto the mudflat, I could not move – half my body had fallen into the soft mud! Despite the hardship, we collected sufficient samples for the study. Though it was a struggle, the learning process brought us knowledge and many happy memories”
–Yim Wai Ching, a student at New Territories Heung Yee Kuk Yuen Long District Secondary School
During the field work, there were times where muddy faces became happy faces as the students discovered that learning could be experiential and enjoyable at the same time.
“John Dewey said that education ‘is life itself’. I am grateful for WWF’s invitation to join this project, it has allowed students into the Reserve, given them a direct encounter with the wonderful local species and put the latest scientific research methods into practice.”
– Mr Hung, a teacher at Pui Shing Catholic Secondary School
Alex Wong, the Discovering Biodiversity project manager, believes that exploring nature is one of the best ways to get students interested in learning. This exploration can take many forms: during the project students held a living crab to measure its length; identified different species of fish in the gei wai at Mai Po; used a bat detector to record the ultrasonic communications of bats flying over them; and followed fireflies that are rarely seen in urban areas. All these experiences helped these students form vivid memories; memories which will hopefully become the foundation of a conservation-focused mind-set in the future.
When the project draws to a close later this month (February 2017), an education pack will be released to all Hong Kong secondary schools. This pack will contain a teaching manual, a wildlife identification chart and an educational poster which highlight the updated Hong Kong wetlands biodiversity database. WWF seeks to make ecological studies like these happen more often. To help make this goal a reality, the teaching manual contains four lesson plans which will help teachers and students carry out ecological studies on campus and in natural areas around their schools. What’s more, in the spring and summer of 2017, WWF will launch a special education activity in Mai Po Nature Reserve based on these lesson plans.
There is an urgent and pressing need to cultivate environmental awareness in the next generation. To create this new “green generation”, we need to get schoolchildren out into nature. If you are interested in going on a biodiversity journey with your students, please follow this link and fill in the application form!