• The power of wonder

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    Getting students interested in Nature is the first step in forming the next generation of nature defenders

    Getting students interested in Nature is the first step in forming the next generation of nature defenders

    As any student can attest to, there are times when the classroom just fails to capture the mind’s attention. Sometimes, the moment of surrendering to closing eyelids is only awaken by a shot of pure energy from the ring of the school bell. Yet the simplest and effective solution is to make materials more interesting. And that is something the facilitators of Haribon’s Biodiversity on Wheels are doing.

    After all, if the challenge you face is who to choose among the raised hands and not getting the attention of students, you must be doing something right. This was exactly the situation during a recent Biodiversity on Wheels session held at Bernabe Elementary School in Pasay this October.

    Biodiversity on Wheels or BOW is a mobile library and multimedia center currently touring Metro Manila’s public schools. At the most basic level, it is a custom designed van outfitted to hold anything anyone would need to teach, from books to a generator to a mounted LCD screen.

    Facilitator Czarina conducting the kids’ favorite the Biodiversity Quiz Bee

    Facilitator Czarina conducting the kids’ favorite the Biodiversity Quiz Bee

    For Haribon though, it is a much-needed tool enabling them to reach the sector with the most potential to affect the future: the youth. However, as significant as BOW is, a tool is only as useful as the one handling it. Haribon’s real weapons are the facilitators who step out from it.

    In Metro Manila and Panay in the Visayas to date, BOW facilitators have designed and delivered various lectures, events and activities showcasing the importance, beauty and threats to Philippine nature and biodiversity to more than 3,000 students. Not bad for something less than a third of the size of an average classroom.

    Back in Pasay, the students of Bernabe Elementary schools, a mix of Grade 2, 3, and 4 students, look upon the images flashed in the screen in front of them while, Czarina Constantino, the day’s facilitator explains. It’s a flower brightly colored red as wide as the students are tall (but hopefully not as smelly), she says. Beside it, a frog is perched on a 25 centavo coin showing how much smaller it is and below that the largest eagle in the world and the Philippine’s national bird feeds its young in the forests of Mindanao.

    For most of the students, it was the first time for them to see the Rafflesia, the Pygmy Frog, the Philippine Eagle and several other unique species found in Philippine forests and seas, and it showed in the “Oohs” that resounded throughout the class. The reactions of wonder and curiosity these kids have is what Haribon works for the rest of the country to have towards our own natural resources.

    While the greatest threat to biodiversity may be the loss of the homes and habitat, the larger problem is that this is all happening without the knowledge of many. For Haribon, nature and biodiversity have unmatched potential to benefit the country if only people can move past the perception that these are only good for timber, mining, and exotic pets. Biodiversity on Wheels is one step to change that.

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    Haribon members are open to become assistant facilitators for Biodiversity on Wheels. To sign up, simply send an email to membership@haribon.org.ph.

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