By Vinny Losasso
“I’m nervous.” “I don’t want to talk in front of people.” “What if I don’t remember the answers?” These were a few of the comments whispered by our students before taking center stage in the Salon Comunal last Friday. It turns out presentations in front of a group make kids nervous in any country. Fortunately, pre-presentation jitters were replaced with smiles and knowledgeable answers when a group of AM students presented their posters describing their experiences learning about local tropical forest and estuary ecosystems.
The presentations were a culmination of a nine-month project created in conjunction with Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Mixto Conchal, an ecological reserve located a few miles down the coastline from Playa Potrero and Bahia del Sol, a local hotel and AM partner. Things got kicked off in April when a group of AM 3rd through 6th graders visited Refugio Conchal to explore the tropical forest during dry season. Then in June they returned to Conchal to see the estuary and visit other estuaries in Brasilito and Potrero, making comparisons between the different sites. The last field trip took place in October when they returned to the tropical forest in Conchal to make observations during rainy season. The final leg of the journey was last week when they were asked to create posters describing what they learned about their environment and the scientific method and to present their posters to their classmates, families, AM volunteers and the good people of Refugio Conchal and Bahia del Sol.
The presentations were a rousing success. Timid faces turned to smiles as they realized that presentations aren’t so bad when you just relax and share information about what you’ve learned. After the presentations, Rocio, the lead ecologist from Refugio Conchal, distributed personalized certificates of participation to each of the AM students which were printed onto pictures that each child had personally created. The kids were happy to receive their certificates and as the Salon was emptying a proud mom informed an AM volunteer that her child’s certificate was going into a frame and onto their living room wall.