Limpiez Art Project, February 2013, Bocas del Toro
Sometimes we ask ourselves how far the science we do can really reach. We wonder if what we find out about the environment will actually help to protect it. Does the knowledge we obtain from our research find its way to the people that need to know about it?
In our opinion, a helpful way to contribute to sustainable environment conservation is to work with people whose everyday lives are strongly connected to what we study, namely tropical marine ecosystems. In the region of Bocas del Toro, the inhabitants of the fairly small islands live from and with the ocean they are surrounded by. Here, the generation that will create the future, the children seemed to be the most interesting group to connect with because, “In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we experience.” (Baba Dioum, environmentalist from Senegal).
In the workshop “LimpiezArt“ we combined several modules of teaching, environmental games, beach monitoring and art with kids from Isla Colón and Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro.
Our goal was to fascinate the children for the marine environment they have in front of their doorstep, to raise their awareness for the human impacts, in particular for the garbage problem in Bocas del Toro, and finally to show them how they can personally improve and protect their environment.
We started with a movie about coral reefs, letting the kids describe, paint and write down the organisms they remember and like the most. A garbage game helped them understand how trash reacts in the environment. It improved their awareness of how long garbage lasts in the marine ecosystems and how it affects the animals living in there. Did you know that an aluminium can needs 200 years and a plastic bottle even 450 years until it is gone?
In an outside activity at a local beach, we then held a beach clean up and a scientific beach monitoring. The kids were introduced to the general characteristics of monitoring and identified the different biological characteristics of the beach. They learned to distinguish between biodegradable and non-degradable waste, the different types and amounts of trash they found at the beach and filled many garbage bags with it. The monitoring sheets will be available for the local teachers and the STRI to embed a regular beach monitoring and to start a data collection of garbage pollution for this region.
Finally, we focused on strategies on how to reduce waste in our everyday lives. Here, the immense use of plastic bags and their substitution through fabric bags for grocery shopping was our topic. The group embellished bags we provided with drawings of marine animals and written slogans. Thus now every participant has their individually designed bag to use and reuse instead of many plastic bags. In the public event in the park at Bocas del Toro, Isla Colón we united the kids from both days and exhibited the bags, photos and the essences from the workshops. On site they created posters about the marine environment and the decomposition rate of different types of garbage. This event was hosted by the two groups and reached out to interested locals and curious passer-byes of all ages. We were happy to welcome so many children and their parents to discuss and design bags together. Throughout the whole event, 60 bags were individually decorated! In conjunction with the knowledge from the games, activities and information, they might be a step stone for the people in Bocas on the paths towards a more sustainable future.
Laura Hoerath (Environmental Science Educator, email@example.com)
Janina Seemann (Marine Biologist, firstname.lastname@example.org)
We want to thank the restaurant Buena Vista, the bakery Anna’s Sweet from Bocas del Toro, Uwe Abraham from the BGG (Berliner Gesellschaft für Großaquarien) from Germany and the Foundation SeaArt for their help, their sponsoring and their donations.
Bocas del Toro: Valencio Vecord, Jorge Luis Chance, Hira Conrad Samudio Grisini, Keoni Grace, Samudio Grisini, Carlos Alex Chen Chen, Jadiel Baker, Jeremy Baker, Luis Acosta Baker, Josephyn Garcia, Carlos Baker
Bastimentos: Dazneth Gomez, Kduar Gomez, Leonardo Cedeño, Michel Angel Delcid, Orma Davis, Ernesto Narvais, Aniti Wagener, Marco Rodrigue Bomarez, Edgardo Bashes Pomarez, Bebe Luigi, Miguel Molinar, Daniela Poweel, Sahira Poweel, Abel Archibold