PCEP Update: January 2016
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Aloha · Talofa · Yokwe · Len Wo · Kaselehlie · Ráán Ánnim · Mogethin · Alii · Håfa Ådai · Tirow

Greetings PCEP Partners, and Happy New Year 2016! Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) is happy to present the December 2015/January 2016 Update for the bi-monthly PCEP Newsletter. We have stories from Palau, Guam, Pohnpei, and San Francisco. Also check out the web portal for updates mentioned in this newsletter. If you have any comments or questions, please contact Emerson (odangoe@prel.org).


Palau High School Science Club

The cultural knowledge of the youth of Palau is diminishing. The Palau High School (PHS) Science Club seeks opportunities to learn how our environment is foundational to our culture. For youth, our knowledge of Palauan culture—including our knowledge of our environment—has been thwarted by different outside influences. To address this concern, the Science Club has integrated activities for the students to explore and discover traditional knowledge of our environment and to compare and contrast such knowledge with a scientific understanding of our unique ecosystem.

One of the great opportunities for the Science Club was a trip in November 2015 to Ngardok Nature Reserve found in the great state of Melekeok. The trip was primarily sponsored by PCEP, which has been supporting place-based education for the Science Club in collaboration with Ngerdok Nature Reserve Rangers and the Palau Conservation Society for the past three years. When we arrived at the Ngardok Nature Reserve, we were introduced to the most biologically diverse fresh water lake in Micronesia. The reserve includes many plants and animals that are either native or endemic to the islands of Palau, or are only found in Ngardok itself. Our goal for this trip was to unite a deeper cultural understanding of the value of this ecosystem with a scientific understanding.

During our visit to Ngerdok Nature Reserve, we participated in four activities to learn more about the cultural and ecological importance of this conservation area. We had the opportunity to:

  1. Listen to a traditional legend shared by community cultural historians, Masaharu Tmodrang and Colin Joseph, which tells of the cultural importance of Ngerdok.
  2. Learn about invasive species and the threats they pose to the reserve.
  3. Follow up on a reforestation project for seedlings planted last year by collecting measurements and fertilizing them with mulch.
  4. Engage in bird watching to learn about birds as bio-indicators of the health of an ecosystem.

The PHS Science Club looks forward to continuing its partnership with Ngerdok Nature Reserve and to identifying more ways to learn and support the work of the dedicated park rangers.

report by the Palau High School Science Club, with assistance from Destin Penland;
photo courtesy of the Palau High School Science Club

Simon Sanchez High School’s We Are Micronesia Ocean Fair

PCEP was a 2015 co-sponsor of the annual Guam Department of Education (GDOE) Simon Sanchez High School’s (SSHS) traveling Ocean Fair. This year’s theme was We Are Micronesia, and was coordinated and led by two outstanding GDOE biology teachers at SSHS: Ms. Melanie Blas and Ms. Kimberly Pangelinan. Ms. Blas is Guam’s current Teacher of the Year; she was awarded the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators in 2014, and received the Governor of Guam’s MagPRO Award for 2014 for Community and Volunteerism. Ms. Pangelinan teaches Marine Biology; she was a finalist for the 2015 Guam Teacher of the Year, and also serves as co-advisor for the Guardians of the Reef Committee.

This year’s Ocean Fair included student projects that focused on the impacts of and adaptations to climate change, conservation efforts, and protecting environmental resources—all throughout the Micronesia region. Ms. Blas’ class developed interactive booths around selected topic areas. Each booth had interactive games, visuals, songs, and brochures. Ms. Pangelinan’s students designed, scripted, and produced videos related to the topics that they presented in classrooms. During November and December, students took their projects on the road and provided outreach education for the island’s elementary and middle school students. As of January, the students have held the Ocean Fair at 10 elementary and middle schools in Guam.

PCEP staff Pam Legdesog worked with the teachers and SSHS student groups as they prepared and presented their Ocean Fair projects. Students used information in PCEP articles, resources, and the website to prepare their displays and presentation materials. The teachers plan to continue the Ocean Fair in the spring for Guam’s southern schools.

report by and photo courtesy of Pam Legdesog

Pohnpei Teachers Using PCEP Resources

On December 15, 2015, the Pohnpei Teacher’s Learning Community (PTLC) held their regular weekly meeting (please see the October/November 2015 Newsletter Update for more information about the PTLC). Dr. Emerson Lopez Odango and Juanita Lawrence—both staff members with PREL and PCEP—led this meeting to learn more about how the PTLC members are using PCEP resources in their classrooms.

The meeting participants engaged in breakaway discussions in three grade level cohorts: Early Childhood Education to Grade 3, Grades 4–6, and Grades 7–9. Each group reviewed several PCEP resources such as the Place-Based Resources for Pacific Islands Schools series. One Grade 2 teacher described using the Mangroves: Living on the Edge in a Changing Climate book as a resource for her lesson plan, which included asking students what they already know about mangroves and showing them images of mangrove swamps in the text.

A Grade 7 teacher explained how he used the PCEP books in a lesson on conservation. He remarked that even though books do not focus specifically on conversation, he was able to use the books to have the students learn about organisms in land, fresh water, and marine habitats. This provided a foundation for independent research, which then connected to writing assignments on conservation.

The PTLC continues to meet every week to brainstorm and share ideas of how to incorporate PCEP resources into their classrooms and their own professional learning. As the number of PCEP resources grows, it becomes crucial to learn about how community members throughout the region are using those resources in formal and informal learning contexts.

report by Dr. Emerson Lopez Odango, with assistance from Juanita Lawrence;
photo courtesy of Dr. Emerson Lopez Odango

PCEP Represented at the American Geophysical Union Annual Conference

On December 14–18, 2015, PCEP joined many of our National Science Foundation Climate Change Education Partnership Alliance partners at the 2015 American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual conference in San Francisco, CA. Corrin Barros (PREL) presented a poster on Place in Pacific Islands Climate Education, based on PCEP’s newly developed Place-Based Education: Elements of Design booklet for educators.

Dr. Art Sussman (WestEd) presented a session on PCEP’s three connected climate education interactives: Carbon Cycle, Earth System Energy Flows, and Climate Change Impacts and Adaptations. This opportunity to share PCEP resources at the AGU conference allowed us to exchange ideas and connect with other climate literacy educators from around the country, many of whom are also building networks of partners to boost climate literacy in their communities.

report by and photo courtesy of Corrin Barros

College of the Marshall Islands Media Club

Over the fall semester of 2015, PCEP has been working closely with a group of young college students at the College of the Marshall Islands (CMI) Media Club to develop a cohort of young local climate storytellers. It is our firm belief that this generation of storytellers are a crucial part of the legacy of our island communities, as they are the not only the best suited to talk about the climate realities of their respective islands, but they are also the most adept with technological advances that are becoming more prevalent in the United States-affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI).

The Media Club at CMI is headed by a faculty member, Chris Sebastian, who has championed this partnership with PCEP from the Club’s nascent stages. Chris’s commitment to the project and ability to coordinate meetings and provide access is critical to the success of this endeavor. Supporting the project as an advisor is the well-known and talented Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, whose voice has resonated across the hearts of countless leaders and youth all around the world.  Along with Chris and Kathy are seven students who are all interested in becoming better storytellers. On top of their school work and obligations, this cohort gathers voluntarily on a biweekly basis to participate in webinars with PCEP staff to learn and practice a different aspect of digital storytelling. They are all clearly passionate about media, curious about technology, and cognizant about the climate challenges that their islands face. It is the nexus of these three elements where many fascinating discussions and insights are gained each week.

At the end of the Fall, 2015 semester, in light of the Conference of Parties climate change talks in Paris (COP21), the CMI community in the Marshall Islands conducted their own climate march. Among many reasons, this was a beautiful and profound statement to the world that this community cared deeply about the outcomes of these talks, as the future of their islands depended on them. Recognizing this as an opportunity to engage in digital storytelling, members of the CMI Media Club took up their cameras and equipment to document the march. The above photo is a selection among the various images taken by these college students who are well on their way to becoming the future leaders and storytellers of their island homes.

We are certainly very excited about the progress that the CMI Media Club is making with regards to this storytelling project. However, this is merely a pilot group and the first step for a much greater vision for PCEP. Our hope is to begin expanding our project to begin working with other cohorts across the USAPI. Discussions are ongoing with potential projects starting in Chuuk, Yap, American Samoa, and Saipan.

report by and photo courtesy of Daniel Lin

Updates to Web Portal Resources Page

We are always adding to the PCEP web portal at http://pcep.prel.org. The Resources page (http://pcep.prel.org/resources/) in particular has some notable updates. We have now added search options in the left-hand side of the Resources page. You can search for keywords in a dedicated search bar, and below that bar, you can select multiple parameters such as specific audiences, author names, ecosystems, and topics to filter through the resources.

When none of the boxes are checked, the resources are listed from newest to oldest. There are currently 51 resources, and the number keeps growing! Some of the newest resources include the aforementioned climate education interactives, a document about K-12 climate science concepts for Pacific Island students, and a series of booklets about climate change in American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

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Copyright © 2016 Pacific islands Climate Education Partnership, all rights reserved.

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