Translating Science: Ecosystem Assessments & High School Students

01 December 2010 | News story

How can you explain Millennium Ecosystem Assessments to high school students? CEC member Omar Mohammed of The Cropper Foundation describes how this can fit in the curriculum.

It has become increasingly evident that the sustainable use of resources is dependent on attitudinal change being developed in the people that live in and use the environment and its resources. Concurrently, Human Well-being is dependent to a large extent on the conservation and the sustainable use of the world’s ecosystems. This was the foundation for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA); a global project designed to assess the consequences of ecosystem changes to human well-being and to establish a scientific basis for their preservation and sustainable use.

The Cropper Foundation (TCF) of Trinidad and Tobago led two major sub-global assessments of the MA; an assessment of the Caribbean Sea and one of the Northern Range of Trinidad and Tobago. These assessments have provided the scientific and factual basis for the development of a Programme for Environment and Resource Education (IERE), which while initially focusing on the formal school system (upper high school to tertiary education), is currently developing public education and early childhood education programmes.

In consultation with teachers and education practitioners throughout Trinidad and Tobago and the Wider Caribbean, TCF identified areas within the examined syllabi in the Natural Sciences and Environmental Sciences in which teachers and students needed the most assistance. Using the data obtained in the two major sub-global assessments that TCF led and the large well of information available, TCF developed in conjunction with leading experts in environmental and sustainable development studies in the Caribbean, the following resource materials for upper high school students of the Natural and Environmental Sciences:

  • A handbook of sustainable development terms and concepts which is now included by the Caribbean Examinations Council as official reference material for CAPE and CSEC Science (the two major examination certificate levels in the English speaking Caribbean);
  • A Case Study Guide describing five (5) local sites within Trinidad and Tobago and providing a methodology for the creation and description of locally relevant case studies;
  • A series of four (4) posters and two (2) brochures illustrating the important findings of the Northern Range Ecosystem and the Caribbean Sea Assessments;
  • A DVD of the Biodiversity of Trinidad and Tobago’s Northern Range

These resource materials have been recognized as novel and important tools in the field of Natural and Environmental Sciences in the Caribbean at the high school level for two (2) main reasons: they have provided locally relevant information and data, something which has been lacking in the English speaking Caribbean; and they have provided a framework (based on the original MA framework) on which teachers, other education practitioners and even students, can develop and build their own local case studies.

The material has been met with great appreciation by teachers but more so by students and has really been able to allow teachers to bridge the sometime difficult gaps between scientific theories and how they relate to the world we live in.

This material is freely available to the public and can be accessed via The Cropper Foundation’s website.

For more information, contact Omar Mohammed, omohammed@thecropperfoundation.org