Open Air Learning | WWF Hong Kong

Open Air Learning

03 April 2018

Outdoor learning experiences are a focal point of the education programmes we run in our three open-air classrooms at Hoi Ha Marine Life Centre, Island House Conservation Studies Centre and Mai Po Nature Reserve. With a mixture of nature observation and wildlife surveys, our staff members engage students’ mental and sensory faculties as they discover a range of habitats and each location’s unique flora and fauna while learning about conservation.

Our One Planet Schools programme for 2017-18 has 19 different programmes across both the formal curriculum and extra-curriculum learning, spanning a range of conservation practice areas, all of which incorporate outdoor learning.

Outdoor learning is an excellent opportunity for teaching interdisciplinary issues, such as in our fisheries resources management programme Seafood Watch. This secondary school programme highlights issues such as over-fishing and the conflicts between different stakeholders. The programme starts with observing the marine environment at Hoi Ha, followed by a field study at Sai Kung markets, and finally interviewing a range of stakeholders along the supply chain. The mixture of critical thinking, on-site observation and data collection skills required provide students with a more comprehensive understanding than they could get form a textbook alone. Feedback from students reflects the effectiveness of outdoor education.

“Wonderful! It’s memorable. I learn not only from books but from first-hand experience which is interesting!”

“I realize how human pollute oceans.”

Learning-by-doing is another key feature of our outdoor programmes, with a good example seen in the survey secondary students conduct as part of Undiscovered Truth. The coastal area exploration includes a marine litter survey to teach students about this persistent environmental issue that has plagued Hong Kong for decades and is only getting worse. Collecting and analyzing trash found along the coast provides an understanding of the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature that cannot be reached with indoor activities. The results of the survey provide a jumping off point for teachers to continue in the classroom.   

Sensory activities are a focal point of the outdoor learning experience at all our three centres, with Mai Po's vast range of habitats providing a perfect location for many of these programmes. Wetland Detective, for example, allows primary students to understand the important role that natural spaces have, even in cities. Here they explore the biodiversity of Mai Po's rich wetland habitats and the discover their importance to both humans and wildlife by observing birds’ roosting habits and examining plant life in the mangroves. The comprehensive learning experience provided by outdoor classrooms helps teachers convey abstract concepts and enhances the learning process.

There are three months left until the end of the school year so there’s still time to book a programme and provide your students the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature. Browse full programme details here.

School visit recommendation:
Secondary School: Mangrove Ecology, Undiscovered Truth
Primary School: Hoi Ha Detective, Nature Artist