The days were numbered and my time was ending in Mombasa and I was FINALLY given the go ahead to complete the Marine Environmental Program I’ve been dreaming of doing! To say the least I was rejuvenated. I was first able to come to Kenya and do my part to help in Education, now the Environment? All these dreams of mine coming true and I was overwhelmed with excitement. I spent the next few weeks consumed in Marine Environmental Literature creating resource package after resource package after resource package.
The length of time it took to create one flashcard that could give all necessary details to aid in other activities was immense but when the last folder was closed and the resources were put on the shelf ready to go in the new year: I was satisfied.
Before I get into explaining the program I thought I’d share a few ‘sea’ puns I happily shared with fellow staff and volunteers whilst making this program. They put a smile on my face and made everyone groan but I wouldn’t be me if not with my puns:
– Are you interested in seeing my new resources?? You’ll have to wade and sea!
– I’m shore you knew that pun was on porpoise!
– Know any good marine jokes? Just let minnow!
‘Schools to Sea’ Marine Environmental Programme Established
In Partnership with Buccaneers Diving, GVI Schools have been able to take students out on a glass bottom boat and to snorkel in the sea. On this trip, students learn about environmental issues and awareness through their ‘Schools to Sea’ Programme. While this is a one-time event for students, GVI wanted to make this a more meaningful activity that is augmented by the direct study of Marine Environments and Conservation before the trip commences.
I developed a twelve week course that is supplemented with ten creative arts lessons that will be taught in during the standard’s assigned 35 minute Literacy Group session. Each student will complete a ‘Marine Environments’ book as well as activities that have student’s understanding the importance of sustainability and conservation.
Lessons introduce students to: marine life, biodiversity, oceans, sea and fresh water, habitats, significance of mangroves, fishing implications, aquaculture, plastic oceans, tourism and empowering students to take action of their own and spread awareness to conserve marine environments.
An example lesson in teaching the risks of open net fishing has students using laminated game cards of 100 fish in the sea (30% young, 50% mature, 20% old) and a die. The first roll of the die is how many young fish they caught (which they use a highlighter to cross off as this washes off laminated card easily), the second mature and the third old. This represents one day. Students roll five sets of times to simulate a week day. At the end, students discuss the implications of
how many fish they have left – If they catch all the mature fish, there is no one to reproduce, if they catch all the young fish, future fishing may not be as successful. Each group of students game card will look different and the discussions will vary but focus around the unsustainable of risky fishing practices and a need to use alternate methods.
Another example of a lesson: understanding the food chain. After students have had lessons on the biodiversity of marine life and had time to explore a specific marine animal they will get a chance to put themselves in a food chain and see the real importance of biodiversity. Each student would get a card featuring a certain marine life form – from plankton to a dolphin to a moray eel. From reading the card the student will then find their space on various ropes by using the reading about who they eat and who eat’s them. Once everyone is in place, students brainstorm what would happen if certain events happened – like: the coral reefs die out. What marine life would be affected? Whether they die or multiply in abundance, their hands will move and form different chains, some students having to sit out as their species is decimated. The ripple effect of this chain will be felt after each part of the rope is changed and this web of connectedness gets broken and retied in multiple places. Students begin to see why maintaining our biodiversity is important and what the adverse affects may be.
After the lessons of biodiversity, marine environments, debates on aquaculture (using current Kenyan examples!) and environmental dangers are completed – students shift into brainstorming ways on becoming responsible for preserving and protecting the environment. This program’s intent is to empower students to feel they can make a change in the world around them by making conscious choices throughout their lives and raising awareness by using their voice. This is showcased through art projects, writing and facilitated through class discussions. The final trip with Buccaneers Diving will hopefully be more than just a novel experience to the students who will now have the vocabulary and knowledge to describe what they see and experience what they’ve been learning up close and personal.
Before I left Mombasa, the twelve packs of lessons were completed and ready to be trialed in the following year. It’s hard putting in a great deal of work into something and not be able to be there to actually teach it! But again, I had to remind myself the point of the position – to develop resources to reach an exponential amount of learners, not just those in the classroom I’m in. So as bittersweet as it was, I left knowing that more students would benefit from these packages than if done any other way. I am happy to report that GVI has begun teaching this Marine Environmental Course at the schools AND in the Bombolulu Community Centre where we teach adult literacy (Maths, English, Computers and Creative Arts). I am thrilled that not only are the students of our schools learning, becoming aware and working specifically on becoming empowered to make change – but also our friends and adult learners on Tuesdays and Thursdays! I am over the moon excited. Even though I am not there, my heart is filled with happiness and pride.How incredible. Good Luck to all those involved!
Thanks to GVI Mombasa’s Facebook Page I was able to see the packages in action:
These students get my ‘seal of approval’ .. get it.. seal? 🙂