Last year the Expedition kick started the Education project in association with The Global Schools Partnership. This programme is funded by The Department for International Development and provides advice and guidance, professional development opportunities and grants to help develop school partnerships between schools in the UK and schools in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Before we arrived in Trinidad, the whole team met with Trinidad and Glasgow teachers at the Graham Kerr Library to introduce ourselves, our project, have a few sandwiches and perform the play! Some members of the team then visited St Bartholemew Primary school in Glasgow to perform the Manno Stream Frog play, which judging by the wave of arms shooting up in the air at the end to ask questions was a success!
Roisin has enjoyed organising the education work since we arrived in Trinidad, co-ordinating with the teachers to set up various days of talks, plays and quizes for pupils of a range of ages at different schools. She feels it is one of the most important aspects of the expedition. In order to preserve the Earth we must inspire the next generation!
The other week we spoke of our excursion to Lopinot with St Joseph Secondary School. More recently we have visited other schools but we were constraint for time as pupils finished their final exams and the schools began to close for summer towards the end of June. However, we managed to arrange four other trips with a variety of activities!
Wednesday morning of 27th June, Roger, Roisin, Becky and a few frogs went to St Augustine Secondary school to speak with the 6th Form Environmental Science pupils. A short interactive talk was given, informing the pupils of The Scottish climate, landscape and wildlife in comparison to their own – did you know the Osprey is found in both Trinidad and Scotland? Roger spoke of the importance of maintaining biodiversity and a little on Scottish culture and local frogs! The Sustainable Development Conference, The Rio +20 was also mentioned as it has been making the headlines lately and not baring good news… Pupils were encouraged to comment on how well they think their parents and previous generations are looking after their environment… Shaking heads and ‘Not good!’ was their response… Phew! This was reassuring! The importance of looking after the environment was highlighted with an emphasis on picking up rubbish which is a real problem in the recreational areas of Trinidad. Pupils then had the chance to meet the Phyllomedusa trinitatis frogs – many Trinidadians are feart of these beautiful creatures, in some cases thinking they are poisonous but really they bode no harm to humans. The pupils soon realised this and were gathering round the frogs keen to hold one or stroke their back. Helping to change attitudes to the wildlife is another step towards perserving the flora and fauna of the island.
After lunch, frog masks were constructed and the team set off again, this time to Malabar R.C Primary School in Arima to perform the Manno Stream Frog Play to a group of 200 excitable primary one and two pupils! The play tells the tale of the discoveries of the behaviour of Mannophyrnne trinitatus by previous Glasgow Uni Expeditions, as froggy character Trini (played by Mhairi) hears Manno (played by Robbie) calling from the entrance of his cave. The reproductive lifecycle is described- it is truely special to this species as once the tadpoles hatch, the male Manno carries the tadpoles on his back to a suitable stream. He has to be on the look out for predators such as The Heron (played by Mark) and The Snake (played by Gill) and eventually finds a pool closeby the Cave Frog (played by Gary) who warns him of the fearsome Cave Toad, and the sacrifice he must make to save his offspring…. What happens? We ain’t telling! The audience decides! The pupils were joining in with all our sounds and sayings and again were able to meet our frogs! A talk was also given to the upper primary school who were keen to ask us questions. We learnt a lot too, of the best beaches and waterfalls of the isle and a few new recipes to try out when we got home!
Early Friday morning Roger, Roisin and Tom set off to St Augustine South Government Primary School. We were welcomed into the Principals office where we rose while the National Anthem was played and then were welcomed into the assembly hall where the children stood in rows. Roger spoke briefly of the frogs and wildlife of Trinidad, of our research and the need to preserve our environment.
Monday afternoon there, Mhairi, Roisin, Tom and Mark visited Hillview College to talk to a group of 20 6th form pupils about Turtle Conservation on the island, Biodiversity and Scottish and Trinidad Wildlife. We were touched by the closing message from one of the pupils who thanked us for our talk and informed us that they will try to be more conscious and considerate to the environment.
All the schools have kindly welcomed and supported our work. The level of enthusiasm from the pupils and teachers has warmed the cockles of our hearts. We look forward to visiting again and we plan to develop this branch of the expedition further next year!
If you are interested in us visiting your school please contact Roger Downie at Roger.Downie@glasgow.ac.uk or Roisin at firstname.lastname@example.org