Activities included canoeing, building a nesting box and making crazy candles. At the REF display we ran our usual activities including the water bugs activity. In this activity we provide containers of pond water with their creatures including aquatic insects, insect larvae, freshwater prawns, snails and the occasional fish. The goal for the participant is to catch the creature with a spoon and place it into an ice cube tray so they can identify their catch. It’s amazing how engaged they become enjoying the challenge of catching as many different critters as possible. There is something about a pond – you never know what you might catch!
At REF we know this activity is always a popular way of engaging the public and we were aware that there have always been a number of local ponds at Osprey House. However, our plans went awry when we got there and found that a large pond at the end of Henry Street had been filled in! After a slight panic we ended up at Mango Hill before we could find a freshwater pond.
Perhaps some of the high levels of engagement in the water bugs activity is due to the loss of creeks and ponds in our urban areas. They have been replaced by drains and culverts or just plain filled in. Consequently there are fewer opportunities for kids to explore their neighbourhood, catch tadpoles, fish and just connect with and value nature. Perhaps accessibility is the key to environmental education. If this is the case then Green Army projects like Hays Inlet where our wetlands and wildlife are more accessible to people is a key strategy for engaging all of our community.