School Yard Habitats / Del aula a la naturaleza: construyendo hábitats escolares
Water Quality / Calidad del agua – (Programa ESCAI )
The Making of a Naturalist / El joven naturalista
All About Bats / Todo sobre murciélagos
National Wildlife Federation, Washington, DC (available in Spanish and English)
In this program developed by the National Wildlife Federation (www.nwf.org), teachers and students learn about native plants and the importance of creating habitat to attract urban wildlife. They learn about the elements of habitat—food, water, shelter, and a safe place to raise young—and design and plant a habitat garden on their school grounds. All grades.
Tiny blue butterflies flutter around even smaller purple flowers, while hummingbirds sip nectar from tubular red flowers fitting their bill. An oriole brings insects to her nestlings, and sparrows splash in a birdbath. Thanks to PROBEA’s Habitats Program, this scene is being multiplied in many places throughout the Baja California Peninsula, and these many small gardens together provide a patchwork of habitat that helps offset the effects of development. In this program, based on the National Wildlife Federation’s Habitat Program, participants learn about our region’s native plants, the benefits of native plant gardening, garden design and the four elements of habitat—food, water, shelter and a safe place to raise young. Then they create their own gardens.
Our greatest challenge in developing this program lies in locating a Mexican source of native plants for gardens. Taking them from the wild is not the answer! To meet this challenge we have, together with our collaborator Fundación Esperanza de México (FEM), created a model garden on FEM’s grounds and established a native plant nursery. We and the FEM garden promotoras are learning which plants are easiest to grow, how to grow them from seeds, and how to take cuttings to grow new plants. PROBEA participants have created 28 native plant gardens with their groups in Tijuana and Ensenada, Baja California and La Paz and Loreto, Baja California Sur. Two of them have received their National Wildlife Federation certificate by providing all four elements of habitat.
Students learn about water quality through performing nine water quality tests using an educational kit developed by the San Diego County Water Authority Education Department (www.sdcwa.org). Tests include temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, nitrates, turbidity, total dissolved solids, hardness and water-borne microorganisms. Workshop participants learn about the importance of each test and perform the tests. Middle and high school.
It is always a challenge to incorporate Environmental Education into the high school curriculum. On the other hand, there currently is a lot of pressure to fulfill the need to create an “environmental culture”. We know that taking an Environmental Science course is not enough. To respond to this need, CETYS Universidad, Tijuana campus began the ESCAI Program in April 2002. The objectives of the program are: (a) Raise awareness about water quality, (b) Encourage student participation in a common project, and (c) Promote a work environment that fosters the development of an interdisciplinary scientifically rigorous project. At present, teaching-learning processes have obstacles that include the difficulty to understand the reality we live in, consumerism, rejecting values such as effort and perseverance. The speed of modern life snatches away our ability to reflect, and this is the reason why we, at CETYS, strive to find alternatives to address science studies.
In February 2002 with PROBEA’s support and their generous loan of nineteen water quality monitoring kits containing an observation manual and field tests, Argelia Teón, Claudia L Flores, Octavio Cárdenas and myself were trained to use the kits and wrote a proposal to:
“...Undertake a study of the water quality at the CETYS water treatment plant. The invitation is open to students taking the subjects of Chemistry in the 2nd semester of their freshman year, Ecology and Environmental Education in the 4th semester of their sophomore year, Selected Chemistry Topics or Selected Ecology Topics in the 2nd semester of their senior year. The group of participating students shall not exceed 25...”
At the beginning of the Program we were expecting 3 to 5 students. However, the response was overwhelming and by April 2002 we had a group of 28 participants and 4 teachers. In October 2002 we had 53 students, in April 2003, 15 students; 31 in October 2003 (some of them from Secundaria # 51), 9 during May and October of 2004 and 2005.
In October of 2004 and 2005 we also participated as co-organizers of the binational events Snapshot Day and World Water Monitoring Day, coordinating efforts with other students from the Preparatoria Lázaro Cárdenas, Preparatoria UIA, CONALEP, and Preparatoria CETYS Universidad, Tijuana campus. Again the support provided by PROBEA, as well as Proyecto Fronterizo de Educación Ambiental, Sister Schools of San Diego, Baykeeper San Diego and the Coalition for Watershed Studies (CAS) in San Diego was invaluable. The event took place on October 15, 2004 at the Casa de la Cultura in Playas de Tijuana with 10 participating schools from the 8th National CAS Meeting, and students from CONALEP II and High Tech High International in San Diego. A total of 130 individuals counting students, teachers and exhibitors participated in the event.
In August of this year we decided to participate in an event organized by the National Water Commission “Towards the World Water Forum” which took place in Mexicali on September 22, 2005. This event calls for recording successful actions and experiences to be presented at the “Fifth World Water Forum” (March 2006 in Mexico City).
El joven naturalista features a mind map to teach ecosystem concepts. In addition, students learn field ecology skills through plant, insect and bird observations sheets. The workshop also includes material on how to successfully lead students on outdoor learning experiences. Elementary and middle school.
Tools for Teaching Bat Conservation (Herramientas para enseñar la conservación de los murciélagos) by PROBEA for BCI– Spanish/English (PDF Format*)
Bats are among the most intensely feared and relentlessly persecuted animals on earth. In fact, bats play key roles in a wide variety of ecosystems across the globe, from rain forests to deserts. Unfortunately, we’ve let our ignorance jeopardize one of the earth’s most valuable assets. The best protection we can offer these beneficial animals is to learn and share the truth about them. This workshop is offered through collaboration with Bat Conservation International (www.batcon.org). Grades 3–6.
Did you know that one large colony of Mexican Free-tailed Bats eats 250 tons of insects per night? And most of these are agriculture pests. Using their sophisticated sonar, bats consume a vast number of insects, an important link in maintaining environmental health. In addition, they are important nighttime pollinators of plants that would go extinct without them.
In collaboration with Bat Conservation International, PROBEA has set about to correct misperceptions about bats and provide information to educators. Participants in our hands-on workshops learn what bats eat, how bat anatomy compares to ours, and the species that inhabit their local ecosystems.
One of our Ensenada participants said at the beginning of the workshop, “I’m not convinced.” But she was there. And after the workshop she said, “I don’t want people to leave without thanking PROBEA for sharing their knowledge.” She still thought bats were ugly (Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!), but she understood their importance in the ecosystem and the importance of conserving them.
Our bat workshop participants lead their groups to carry out such projects as awareness campaigns involving school assemblies, classroom presentations, school murals and posters, and even installation of bat houses.