Mangrove Education and Restoration Program Blog
A Bahamas Mangrove Project Teacher Reflection
By Michelle Bailey, Science Teacher Abaco Central High School
A few years ago a student’s parent told me that her daughter refused to let her use pesticides and artificial fertilizers in their home garden. I smirked inside, and thought yes, each one reach one, the pollution unit had migrated from the classroom and had a foothold in the community. Like that long ago girl, I believe that the students that spent two semesters working on the Bahamas Awareness of Mangroves (B.A.M.) programme are the vanguard that will one by one change minds and shape the actions of their community. On this small island of Abaco, these children of builders, fishers, businessmen, and tourist industry workers are going to be world changers – one ecosystem at a time.
The students took an almost parental interest in the growth of their “babies”, the mangroves they grew in the classroom in different substrates. One was quite affronted when the leaves of one of her plants turned brown. Having a long term project made science real for them, and gave them an understanding of how much effort it took to slog through from hypothesis to conclusion. Not to mention that the results were not always quite what you thought they would be. I should have kept some records of my own especially a tally of the number of times I heard, “This a lot of work Mrs Bailey.” It was worth it, having been hooked into inquiry by this programme, students have applied for summer workshops in environmental studies. Their friends who did not participate this year want to know if they will get the opportunity next year. Those same students that stared daggers at me when they sank to their thighs in mud cannot wait to get muddy again, well… most of them anyway.
As a member of the curriculum team for the 2010 Ministry of Education Biology Curriculum Guidelines I was grateful that the BAM project provided opportunities for the realization of the curriculum’s overarching goal of having students “become critical thinkers, problem-solvers, innovators, visionaries, scientifically and technologically literate citizens who will appreciate, interpret and conserve the natural environment.” The field trips, the long term study and the classroom workshops provided such a wide variety of invaluable learning experiences. Some touched yucky things for the first time, I was thrown way back to my university days when I got squirted by a sea cucumber. My favourite snapshot in time is of a young lady standing in the middle of the room enraptured by what she saw in the microviewer oblivious to everything else around her. Aha moments that have translated into we know mangroves confidence.
Photos by Amy Heemsoth.