It was a fine morning on Wednesday 18 April 2018 when the Education Team of Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) went to Kereng Village. As the team stepped out from the car, some children wearing outdoor outfits came to approach. Those children are in their fifth grade at Sahabat Alam Primary School, the same school that visited Sebangau research camp back in 2016.
Recently, the Education Team hosted a Conservation Class at Sahabat Alam Primary School. The students gathered in the Kereng Village for forest trip to Sebangau research camp. There were 20 participants from Sahabat Alam School consisting of 16 students and 4 school representatives (teachers, human resources, administrative staff).
The activity began as Bima, the education staff, asked all of the children to gather and make a circle. As they finished, they then walked to the ‘local port’, a simply long wooden bridge that splits the local houses on its sides above the dark river. They stood on the bridge waiting for Dudin and his friend prepared their kelotok (a wooden small boat), a common river transport to the Sebangau National Park forest.
The children looked really happy as they sang along while crossing the Sebangau River. When the boat arrived, all the eyes starred at the same direction to a tree when a kelasi (a local name for Red Langur monkey) jumped in a quick move. They were lucky enough to have a warm greeting from this leaf monkey.
Afterwards, the school trip participants gathered in the camp’s hall for an introduction. They were split into two groups led by two professional BNF field staffs. There were three activities scheduled; getting to know peat swamp the forest and the trees, catching the dragonfly to understand biodiversity information, and planting the seedling to plant in the nursery area.
During forest exploration, the participants walked into the spongy forest. Iwan and Hendri, BNF field staffs, explained very detail information about the types of the trees in the forest, the peatland, and the dark water pooled on the hole. The students were required to identify and write down all the information on the given survey sheet.
The three boys from the school, Raihan, Dana, and Yazid, were very active. They threw a lot of questions to Iwan regarding the tree information.
Mrs. Konita, a Sahabat Alam School representative, that joined the activity found this activity helps to bring the active learning to the students.
“the activity helps the students to concentrate and develop their sensory – motor. It’s fun yet very challenging for the students” said Konita. After the first activity finished, the participants went back to camp. They sang a song with Bima while waiting for Lis, a kitchen coordinator, prepared the meals and fresh orange juice.
After having tasty lunch, the participants were ready to take the second challenge, a dragonfly caught! They ran here and there on the peat to catch some dragonflies and damselflies. Having the flying insects on hands, BNF field staffs helped the students identify the information and explained how those insects were useful to forest information. The last activity on the day was planting the tree. The students learnt to plant the seedling tree in the nursery area.
Huda, a school teacher, was also excited looking at his students’ enthusiasm during this full-day activity.
“I’m a sports teacher, and I think it trains the children to move and it’s good for their physical condition,” said Huda.
There have been some studies supporting the argument that outdoor activity is an effective way to promote active learning for the students. The school children at primary level need to be more active than they should be while at school. At school, the children have fewer opportunities for being active. They normally learn from books, do their home-works and assignments, and take additional courses in the evening disallowing them from healthy physical activities.
On the other hand, getting into the forest has transformed the learning to be very motivating. It has more impact on children in a way that it offers them the real-life situations that stimulate their curiosity. In addition, it also provides the students with experiential opportunities that enable the students to react and respond actively towards challenges.
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