Fun, teaching go hand in hand in lessons about environment Michael A. Bengwayan

Fun, teaching go hand in hand in lessons about environment

Michael A. Bengwayan

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Not all staid stuff: Learning about the environment need not be just about reading books. Trips to the jungle can foster understanding of nature, even among younger children, but such trips should also be fun. Picture: www.mayuc.com
Michael Bengwayan

BRUNEI is blessed with its untouched forests, clear pristine rivers, open valleys and bountiful biodiversity. It is a beauty to behold and a paradise for environmental teachers.

It is also a learning laboratory for pupils who can have fun and appreciate nature and its importance to humans and the world.

As an environmentalist in the Philippines for many years, I have planned and carried out several educational environmental trips with elemenatry, secondary pupils and college students.

It is important that in planning an environmental educational activity, it should be fun. Students should be able to learn. And finally, students should be able to correlate their learning to life’s realities.

Here are some pointers for teachers in planning and implementing a fruitful environmental trip.

Set a goal or objective

There must be an educational objective. It must be SMART: meaning it is Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.

An example can be: To increase environmental awareness of Grade 5 and 6 pupils by introducing them to the beauty of Brunei by visiting the Ulu Temburong National Park on October 15.

Get the permission of your school head before you plan the activity.

Note down the pupils’ expectations

The children’s expectations are important. Make a list of what they expect to see, know, learn. Know their wishes. Based on these information needs, you can logically and sequentially plan the activities.

Later on after the educational trip, check whether these expectations have been met or the pupils questions answered.

Orient your staff

Since you will work with some staff or co-teachers who will assist you, make sure they know the objectives of the activity. They should also have a common understanding of the activities goal and objectives. They should at least be knowledgeable in environmental issues, and trained in first aid and disaster management.

Allow them to make the trip fun and enjoyable for the pupils. Identify their roles and tasks individually. If a docor or nurse can volunteer to participate, include her or him.

Make your budget

Identify and list the things that will be needed and how much these will cost. These should include transportation, meals/food, first aid kits and medicine, water, flashlights, rope for rapelling, matchboxes, pocket knives and jungle bolos, insect repellants, pupils notebooks and pens, camera, cell phones, compass.

Identify Your itinerary and how long you will be in said place

If the children are visiting several sites, be sure they will not stay too long in one place or else they will not have enough time for other places. Spread out your time in each place equally or dependent on the significance of the place or the things they want to see or learn.

Orient the pupils a day before the trip

Before the trip, the pupils should be informed beforehand where they will go, when, what they will see, learn, observe and write and do, how should they ensure safety and why are they going to these places.

Make your letters to each individual parents and make sure you have their permission allowing their children to join the activity.

Group students in pairs to be buddies and explain that for the whole duration of the trip each buddy is responsible for his or her partner.

Tell the pupils what to bring and what not to bring, what to wear, what to do and what not to do. If there are rules and regulations in the nature parks that they will go to, get those rules and read it to the students and let them understand it.

Inform proper authorities where you are going, when you will go and when you and the children are expected to be back. Check the weather bulletin and make sure the day is clear and no untoward weather disturbance will happen.

When you’re ready, go and have fun. But remember to remind your pupils that in a forest, they should:

Take nothing but pictures

Leave nothing but footprints

Kill nothing but time

The writer has worked on environmental issues for many years in the Philippines, educating and training children and students on ecological concerns. Read about his environmental education group at www.geocities.com/pinetreemacik/macik

The Brunei Times

Michael Bengwayan

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