Experiential Learning – River Fieldwork
As Confucius said: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
Learning outside the classroom is often more stimulating for students. The students from Yew Chung International School joined our program to do hands-on science in the outdoors.
As a welcome to Thailand, we began the trip with some warm up activities, including Thai language and culture class and traditional saa paper umbrella painting. It was then time to get down to the serous business: river fieldwork. The students explored ten waterfall sites in three days in order to measure the water levels. This was their first time using scientific measuring tools in their fieldwork, so they were really excited to begin the experiments.
The first site we measured involved a short jungle trek to reach the river. The students were separated into two groups: one measuring water, the other identifying the insects present. There were so many small insects that the students (and I) had never seen before, it was a fascinating learning experience.
The students used nets to collect and place the insects in a tray so that they could be studied in detail. The students used a magnifying glass to identify the species and match them with the insect information sheets. One of students, Nathan, was very interested in the dragon nymph: “I never knew that the life cycle of a dragonfly begins with an egg and then moves to a nymph which actually lives in the water until it is fully grown.” The group measuring the water had to check the levels with special tools to gauge the height and flow of the river.
Throughout the trip, the students worked hard while still enjoying every moment of the experience with their friends.
One of the most interesting sites was Mae Sa waterfall. There are ten different levels at the waterfall, so we had a great choice of sites to study. We chose the fifth level because it looked to be the most diverse. Once the water and insect checks were complete, the students relaxed and had fun together under the picturesque waterfall.
Though the trip was long, it was a worthwhile journey full of valuable learning experiences. In addition to their fieldwork, the Yew Chung students returned home with an appreciation of different cultures and an understanding of how to adjust to a new environment and make new friends.
A student’s education does not always have to happen inside the classroom. Experiential learning outside is effective because students are always fully engaged and stimulated. We look forward to learning more with Yew Chung International School on their next fieldwork trip with VSP.