As part of the Youth Conservation Action Network (YOUCAN) fellowship driven by Ramnath Chandrashekar, an established environmental conservation educator and filmmaker, and his team, we set out to begin a new journey as environmental educators to establish a strong connection with our learners at the Al Qamar Academy.
The 6-month long programme is going to help us focus on some of the pressing challenges in the current environmental domain, from problems arising due to increased deforestation and over use of natural resources, depletion of forest cover for human uses, to issues with plastics and garbage, and the way we take our environment for granted.
Since at Al Qamar, the students are already aware of the above topics, thanks to the curricula designed by the school, we found it easy to initiate our first nature club session with the enthusiastic group of students from grades 4, 5 and 6, on 8 Dec’18.
The day started with a small introduction. We asked them what they understand by the word 'nature', to which they replied saying various meaningful words: from carbon dioxide, oxygen, green, plants, trees, a group of poachers, food web, pollution, to ecofriendly, and man. They also understand how we all are interdependent on nature. It was good to see them appreciate the value of being part of the environment surrounding us.
They were equally enthusiastic about making the planet a better place, which, according to them, is why they were keen on becoming part of the nature club that we’re planning to form in the school.
The students participated in an activity, which we named as ‘nature bingo’, where the students got to interact and know their peers better. It also helped us know about the depth of knowledge those students have as well as made us realise the immense potential they can have as the leading lights in future. They are filled with ideas which one can find through the way they ask questions.
Our objective of this programme is to make those students think about the various simple ways through which we can reduce our dependence on nature.
The students loved the documentary – Save our Sholas – that was screened during the latter part of the session, followed with a brief Q&A where we got to test their extraordinary observing and thinking abilities.
Until we meet again, for the next session, the students will be working on finding a name for the nature club and also writing a short description or drawing on the forests in Western Ghats. This activity will give us insights to what the kids visualise about these forests.
Note: The nature club sessions are being conducted by educators from YouCan who are working professionals in Chennai. They are fellows of the YouCan programme. As part of the initiative, they are currently working as co-teachers at the Al Qamar Academy, focusing on raising awareness about eco-literacy. Their main objective is to educate children about nature in the simplest ways possible.