ONE of the most uplifting things about visiting a school, especially a primary school these days, is to immediately sense a keener awareness of nature and the environment.
This can be seen in the superb posters and pictures on the walls, as well as in the drawings and projects done by the pupils.
Nowadays, you’ll find schools with gardens, ponds; insect hotels; tree-planting projects and teaching methods that make learning all about God’s creation interesting and relevant.
Coinciding with World Wetlands’ Day (yesterday Feb 2), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a new teaching resource to support second-level schools in exploring wetland habitats such as rivers and lakes, turloughs, bogs and fens.
This provides information on wetlands relevant to the curriculum, adding to a range of online environmental resources already available for teachers. The exercises and activities in the new resource use an inquiry-based approach to learning.
In short, the idea is to bring issues to life for students, encouraging them to learn about the science that is all around them in the Irish environment.
Tadhg O’Mahony, senior scientific officer, EPA said they wanted to highlight the importance of wetland habitats and the activity, much of it unseen, that goes on within them, as well the wide range of benefits and services they provide.
‘’Wetlands have an important role to play in flood relief, landscape, regulation of the water cycle and the provision of water for drinking supplies, agriculture; industry; recreation; transport and fishing,’’ he pointed out.
Rather than treating marshes, bogs and swamps as useless land, the whole emphasis has changed and now such places are looked on sources of value and beauty that ought to be protected. The importance of wetlands to communities is being highlighted, and attitudes are changing.
The EPA consulted with experts and collaborated with teachers. Also, the Irish Ramsar Wetlands Committee provided valuable assistance in developing the programme Teachers can access and use video comprehension, lesson plans, a file of press cuttings and a range of exercises and scenarios for debates, role plays, map work and field studies.
The Wetlands Habitat resources are one of 19 modules in the EPA’s resources for Post Primary schools, 2020 VISION: A Closer look at Ireland’s Environment. Each module uses short video clips from the popular EcoEye series hosted by Duncan Stewart as a starting point.
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