During the month of April, Andes EcoTours partnered with Fundación XYE to develop a week of environmental activities for the students at the rural school in Aguadulce, Cundinamarca. The students participated in 5 separate workshops centered around birds and the conservation of cloud forest and páramo ecosystems in their region. Focus was on the appreciation of birds and their importance in the maintenance of healthy ecosystems.
Day 1: The Water Cycle
The first workshop welcomed students by giving them an introduction to birds and assigning them each a bird specie they would begin identify themselves as for the rest of the week. The theme of this workshop was ecology. Students learned about the water cycle, the relationship between birds and plants and how they contribute to improvements in the water cycle - ultimately resulting in conservation and the restoration of the forest. This one done by building a filter that helped to explain the different layers of vegetation and allow students to understand the interdependent relationship of nature's elements.
Day 2: Listening to the Sounds
During the second workshop a surround sound system was arranged in the classroom so the soundscape blended in perfectly with the environment. Students closed their eyes and listed to some of the bird songs being played, identifying familiar sounds and pointing out others that were completely alien to them. After listening, each student got to hear the sound of the bird they were assigned and were encouraged to imitate it. The goal of the day was to introduce students to different bird families and their ecological roles. At the end of the day students listened to the soundscape again and were able to identify more species, call them out by name and mention their important characteristics, as well as what they eat.
Day 3: What bird is it?
On the third day students were introduced to scientific language, analytical thinking and taxonomy. They learned about the organization of life from largest to smallest, and using their assigned birds, began to understand how birds are organized by categories. We also reinforced the importance of understanding the behavioral and ecological characteristics of birds, as well as the importance of using science as a method of study. At the end of the day students planted 12 native plants in the school grounds that will begin to attract different bird species as they grow and flower.
Day 4: Birdwatching
Students got an early start to the day with an outing into the forest to learn to identify birds by site and sound. They learned how to use binoculars to locate images of different species that had been strategically placed along the trail and began to identify the bird calls they heard around them. At the end of the day they were given laminated images of their assigned birds, as well as a few copies of a specially-designed memory game they could continue to use as a reminder of what they had learned during the workshops.
Day 5: Family day
A few weeks later we returned to the school for Earth Day and celebrated with a day of fun for both parents and students. Parents were given a summary of the workshops and students recited the names and sounds of the various species they learned to identify. They then broke up into smaller groups and played the memory game together, before painting a mural of their joint commitments to the environment.
For more information on the types of activities we have carried out in the past you can visit our Ecotourism page.