Zoe restarted Nature Club in two local schools this year, in this blog she writes about the other NGOs that got involved, what the programme involves, the children’s passion, and her own thoughts and feelings towards setting up this after-school club that inspires so many.
We restarted Nature Club in July after our turtle festival. The festival was a great way to get involved with the school children again and also start to build a stronger relationship between Atoll Marine Centre and the community.
Manta Trust had established a Marine Biologist, Lisa Bauer, at one of the local resorts, Hurawalhi. We have built a close relationship with her and she was also passionate about the education programme, so helped us design our lessons as well as teach. Lisa took the lead on the lessons regarding Manta’s and Sharks, and also provided a tour of Hurawalhi’s fauna and flora with the children from both Naifaru and Hinnavaru, they were so excited to visit and thoroughly enjoyed their time there! There is little relationship between the resorts and the local people in Lhaviyani outside of employment, so this was a really positive event, especially as it was regarding education of the environment.
We started off the club with an introductory lesson about the ocean, talking about the different habitats with a small overview about what they knew. We were pleasantly surprised that they knew so many solid facts about the ocean! We also tried to fit in an activity within every lesson, as this is in afterschool club their concentration might not be best so we try to get them to learn by doing. They were creative and very much enjoyed drawing so we frequently asked them create mind-maps and posters with diagrams; these are then displayed in our marine centre, where people from all over the world can see their work!
We then covered the fauna, such as fish, turtles, mantas and sharks. The children were most engaged in these lessons! We had guest speakers from Manta Trust and Olive Ridley project for some of these lessons. It was great to have a Dhivehi speaker, Shameel, from Olive Ridley Project, to show them how to rescue turtles correctly and teach about the devastating effects of ghost nets. Lisa from Manta Trust also got the children very excited with the lesson on Mantas, the children had so many questions.
For Nature Club at Naifaru; Thoriq, who is in charge on waste management on the island, gave a talk to the children on the best ways to manage their waste. They didn’t seem too engaged on my talk about the degradation of plastic, but Thoriqs talk seemed to piqued their interest a lot more!
Waste management was the last lesson for the children, a game was made where they had to match the rubbish to the amount of time it took to degrade. After this lesson the children were given two options for their last session; a hatchling game on the beach OR a beach clean competition. All the students voted for the beach clean! Although waste management isn’t the most exciting topic, is seemed to impact the children enough to want to do something about it. We were extremely happy to see that!
When it came to the beach clean competition, they were split into three teams; Hinnavaru girls, Hinnavaru boys and Naifaru. They all had to collect rubbish, and the longer the piece of trash took to degrade, the more points it was worth. We gave them half an hour and one large bin to fill. Little did we know we massively underestimated these students, their bins were overflowing with rubbish and it took 8 people to count all the rubbish! The beach clean was a huge success and a great way to end Nature Club for 2017.
I thoroughly enjoyed Nature Club, which to be honest, I didn’t think I would! I had never taught before and wasn’t confident doing so. But after my first lesson with them I loved it, their personalities were hilarious and the whole experience was very rewarding. They always found a way to surprise you!
By Zoe Cox