Palau High School Science Club: Reconnecting to Our Place

* Report authored by the Palau High School Science Club, with assistance from Destin Penland (PCEP)

Palau High School Science Club at Ngardok Nature Reserve, November 2015 (PC: Palau High School Science Club)

Palau High School Science Club at Ngardok Nature Reserve, November 2015 (PC: 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.

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