Yesterday we finally "inaugurated" the Santa Lucía Forest school. With a group of nine local children (aged 4 to 14) we went on an expedition into the Santa Lucía Cloud Forest Reserve.
The kids turned into forest explorers and using all their senses (expect "taste" maybe ;) went through the forest as researchers unraveling quite a few of nature's secrets while bombarding the facilitators with questions.
The students created a collection of leaves, trying to find characteristics on how to distinguish different plant species by their leaves. Using magnifying lenses that we borrowed from the University of Sussex' equipment (thanks Fiona Matthews for permitting that) they inspected the leaves and - apart from details of the leaf itself - discovered a whole microcosmos of other life forms on the leaves.
After a lot of individual sensorial impressions we algo gave an introduction on the monitoring activities in Santa Lucía using our camera trapping project as example. The use and functionality of camera traps was explained first in practice and - after lunch at the lodge - we presented them the results of the project with in-depth information on the various mammal species that roam the reserve.
The kids also had time to play - and go crazy in and around the lodge for a while. However, they thought that there was not enough time for that point on the agenda. :)
It was a beautiful experience for all participants and even the weather played along and stopped the rain for a day.
We believe that this a not only a great addition to the regular educational activities for the children, but that it should be a core feature of those. We hope to repeat this type of event soon and to have to chance to enhance it with more diverse activities.
Thanks to everyone who helped and participated!