Emirate children will have a chance to seek their teeth into nature at the new Ecoventure Field Study Center.
Children in America were asked where their beef comes from. Their answer? The supermarket. This could be a classic case of the stupid American, or it could point to the wider implication. Many children have never been to a farm, much less the kind of beef factory that has put thousands of animal lovers off meat forever. They can’t integrate the knowledge that the calf is born, then it’s fed until it grows into a juicy fat cow, and then… well, I’ll leave out the grizzly details.
Instead, most children only see the inert piece of beef in the refrigerated section of a supermarket. If we don’t show them, we can’t expect them tocare how it got there. The same applies to the wild. Dubai’s city children rarely get to experience nature up close and personal, to fall in love with its genius, so they have little incentive to protect it. But now they have a chance thanks to Ecoventure, the UAE’s first field study center.
“There’s no better way to learn about ecology, to learn about geographic studies, than to actually physically learn about it with your hands and see it yourself,” Matthew Cocks, the general manager of Ecoventure, told The National.
Field trips are a part of every science curriculum, but Emirate teachers such as Mr. Cocks were frustrated with the dearth of field centers that could create structured outdoor lessons. Since no such thing existed in the Emirates until now, teachers either had to do without – trying their best to render nature in 3D within four walls – or send children far afield at great cost.
A trip to the closest field study venue in Cyprus cost students over $2,000, while a trip to Ecoventure’s center one hour east of Dubai costs one quarter of that amount. This covers transportation, meals, lodging, and lessons, according to the paper.
There they have the opportunity to learn about the Northern Emirates’ Wadis, mangroves, and dunes.
“The interesting thing about young students is, as long as we can make it real for them, they’ll understand what it is,” Mr Cocks told the paper. “Those kids are there touching, poking, and feeling that organism in real life as opposed to sitting in a classroom and seeing it on a white board.”
“Pupils will learn about sustainable living through their involvement with daily activities, like composting or working at the site’s ghaf tree nursery. A majlis will be built outside the dormitories for henna painting, traditional cooking and storytelling, and volunteer initiatives may be planned with local communities, another IB curriculum requirement,” the paper reports.
Some of their teachers include Emma Smart, a biologist who discovered a new breed of fish, Sam Browning, a husky musher, and Kevin Davidson who prospected minerals in the Yukon territory.
The center, which opened on November 6th, will create priceless experiences according to Peter Milne, environmental education coordinator and a teacher at Raffles International School.
“You can stand up and talk about animals in the UAE as much as you want, and they’re interested, but they really want to see it for themselves.”
:: The National
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image via Pink Sherbet Photography