Over the summer, I’ll be working with youth in the community of the second largest island of the Galápagos archipelago, Santa Cruz. This central island is the touristic center of the archipelago, and Puerto Ayora, its capital, is the most populated (and thus, urban) area in the islands. In particular, my goal is to engage students of the Unidad Educativa Modelo Tomás de Berlanga, a bilingual non-profit school five minutes from the center of Puerto Ayora, and create a youth-led project that focuses on habitat awareness and improvement, participatory science, and the arts, specifically through birds.
I will try to apply the framework of the Celebrate Urban Birds program to the Galápagos, using a list of around 16-20 focal species to teach those I can reach on Santa Cruz about citizen science as a tool for conservation and research while hopefully deepening an appreciation of their surroundings. I aim to give the students as much control as possible over what programs and art forms are utilized, because with children in particular, being involved in CUBs programs lends a sense of ownership and activism in their participatory science and bird-inspired artwork. By showing the diverse voices possible in science, certain aspects of it can be demystified for youth participants, and sharing their data and artwork can instill a sense of pride in their surroundings and effort at studying and sharing it, which makes all the difference to us.
CUBs has inspired many programs around Latin America before. In Cuba, for example, the National Museum of Natural History adapted the project’s spirit of scientific inquiry and organized a workshop for children that studied the tree preference of migratory Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in a park of Havana. Here’s my brief translation of their report.
Although it is difficult for me to create a perfectly suitable curriculum or succinct research question like the Museum’s without directly assessing the conditions in Puerto Ayora, I have been thinking of fun lesson plans and creative art projects that could supplement the more data-oriented facet of the summer program. What do you consider invaluable parts of a child’s experience when learning about birds? Please feel free to share your ideas here!