This is a guest post by Kazunari Sugawara, a researcher at The River Foundation, a Project WET partner in Japan. He was recently invited to be a guest speaker at the Second Annual Meeting of the Taiwan Water Education Partnership Network (TWEPN) in Taipei. He presented about the work of Project WET in Japan, covering information such as developing materials, adapting to school environments, brushing up facilitator workshops and creating a new strategy targeting school curriculum.
Japan is disaster-prone country. We have been attacked by earthquake, volcanoes, tsunami and water disasters due to typhoons and heavy storm rain. Taiwan is also an island area surrounded by the sea, and the people of Taiwan have faced many disasters, too. Given these similarities, I saw many parallels between water education in Taiwan and Japan during the meeting.
While watching a presentation about the local implementation of water education in Taiwan, I found out that they do a lot of work around disaster prevention education, especially with floods and landslides. In the schools, some Taiwanese children learn about aquatic biodiversity through experiential activities held in the wild with children in life jackets. Both Taiwan and Japan have published a lot of materials and case studies which can be helpful for each other in similar water situation and education system. A lot of new ideas for water education could be created by further expanding this wave of exchange.
In addition to going to the conference, I also visited two water education facilities in Taiwan, the National Museum of Marine Science & Technology (NMMST) and Guandu Nature Park. I highly recommend both sites.
The NMMST opened in January 2014 as one of the newest museums of of marine education of the world. Children can learn about the abundance and diversity of marine resources through hands-on activities such as the Kid’s Exploration Zone, the Dee Sea Theater and the Marine Environment Gallery. Guandu Nature Park is situated in northern Taiwan and is a major stopover site for migrating birds, especially waterfowls and shorebirds, as well as an important wintering and breeding ground for many species. Guandu Nature Park has five programs for school students, including bird-watching, wetland ecosystems, investigation of wetland life and a special-needs children's program.