Thursday, November 19, 2009

Freshwater quality and biodiversity for primary schools (9, 13 Nov 2009)

Primary schools are finally getting into the act of water quailty monitoring! (Thanks to Audrey for the link-up.) I have always felt that the water quality in our natural areas and man-made water bodies (e.g. reservoirs, canals) can never be taken for granted. While Public Utilities Board (PUB) has done an excellent job in monitoring and maintaining the water quality in reservoirs, the rest of our water bodies are poorly monitored, or neglected altogether. We really do not know what is going on inside all these waters!

The other activity that I feel strongly about is education. If done right, education can solve many of today's problems - environmental, social or otherwise. And you can never start education too young. Given proper exposure, the children of today will grow up with a sound awareness of the environmental issues challenging our world and become staunch stewards of the environment tomorrow. However, without good old hands-on experience, how do you expect them to appreciate the importance of good water quality and acknowledge their connectivity to the environment?

Over a period of 2 days, Queenstown Primary, New Town Primary and Pei Tong Primary have their students participating in my course on freshwater quality and biodiversity. I must admit that facilitating primary school students is very different from facilitating secondary school students and more so compared to polytechnic students. But this adds to my overall learning experience so no complaints here.

If you are expecting to see 40 kids running around the field with their teachers (and me) shouting to keep them from hurting themselves (e.g. falling into the water), you are not too wrong. But it is exactly this infectious energy that fuels their enthusiasm and unprejudiced questioning. To them, curiosity is asking about what they do not know without fear of ridicule or embarassment. Their attitude is a refreshing change from the reserved nature of older students.

As always, field work is a must for my courses. There is no substitute for real world experience. However, the less predictable nature of the field is also present, culminating in a heavy downpour during our field trip. With some quick thinking, the field session was salvaged by substituting with an outdoor lesson under a nearby highway bridge. (We were pretty safe as the whole area under the bridege was concretised.)

Figures (L-R, T-B): Inspecting leeches (again!) under the shelter of a highway bridge; Andrew conducting a lesson on water ecology under the same bridge; in brighter weather, Andrew does the same lesson next to the pond; students checking out aquatic life at the pond; on-site testing of water quality; the mandatory classroom photo at the end; downpour!


KCK said...

A comment from one participant, Guo Anqi

KCK said...

Found another participant's comment, Rachel Chua