Science camp gathers students in bid to tackle climate change

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By Ylexis Kyle-Michael Rualo

PUERTO GALERA, Oriental Mindoro ? The first ?Hyundai New Thinkers Camp? was held recently in this island-resort, gathering some 40 public high school students and 20 teachers from select ?high risk areas? in Luzon in an attempt to fully understand the issue of climate change.

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The Science Education Institute of the Department of Science and Technology teamed up with Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI) Foundation to discuss climate change and encourage students in the process to bolster the country?s small pool of scientists.

Using the DOST and Department of Education?s database of schools in areas of NCR, Region III, and Region IV most at risk of natural and man-made calamities, teams were screened and selected based on their degree of risk.

Dr. Carlos Primo ?CP? David, geologist and camp director, set the tone for the activities by pointing out to campers that typhoons inhibit the growth of the Philippines.

The bulk of the country?s gross domestic product (GDP), he said, is usually diverted to disaster relief and recovery, as was the case during the years that the Philippines was ravaged by super typhoons such as Ondoy and Pablo.

David said typhoons only used to pass Luzon and Batanes. Now, they almost always go through Visayas and Mindanao, he noted, adding this as an effect of climate change.

Minimizing the impact of natural hazards like typhoons and accumulating emergency funds for recovery are needed so that the Philippines can adapt to climate change, David said.

The nine-day event was also held in partnership with the UP National Institute of Geology (UP NIGS) and UP Marine Science Institute (UP MSI), which comprised the roster of lecturers and facilitators for the geology and marine science segments of the camp.

UP NIGS and UP MSI each had one day for lecture and two days for exposure trips. The lecture days were allotted to instill in the participants the skills which would be needed for field work. In the field, teams of students and teachers completed the station-based exercises in every location.

For the first wave of exposure trips, UP NIGS facilitated the campers? river and beach traverse at Tabinay for water quality, profile, and discharge. Community surveying on water use and river profiling at Aninuan and trekking to Talipanan falls capped off the geological field work.

The goal of the geology half of the camp was to make the campers understand the value of fresh water resources in sustaining lives, its scarcity, and the hazards that it faces like floods, erosion, and salt water inclusion, said UP NIGS research associate Pamela Tolentino.

UP MSI?s half of the camp can be summarized into three modules: looking at the interaction of climate change and the ocean, analyzing the impact of climate change in coastal areas, and studying climate change?s effects on coastal communities and marine ecosystem?s biodiversity.

According to UP MSI team head Dr. Alette Y?iguez, participants focused on the El Ni?o and La Ni?a phenomena, coastal areas? erosion, and strengthening of storms as effects of climate change on the ocean, marine organisms and communities.

The UP MSI exposure trips include hands-on exercises at the beach and coastal reef, aside from snorkeling to see the ocean?s natural resources.

HARI Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of Korean carmaker Hyundai, sponsored the event since it has the advocacy of compensating for carbon footprint produced by motor vehicles, according to Hyundai Philippines product management communications head Alan Gonzales.

The camp is the third phase of the Hyundai New Thinkers Circuit (HNTC) ? a year-long youth learning program divided into four major activities. Preceding the camp was the ?Summit? and ?Bayanihan Project?; to follow is the ?Spotlight? set in June.

Gonzales added that the Summit was meant to set the paradigm, Bayanihan Project to take action, Camp for immersion, and Spotlight to explain to others what has been done and learned.

To address the need for more innovators in the country, HNTC began with the Summit where students interacted with scientists, innovators, and industry experts to come up with their own climate science or community development project.

The Bayanihan Project phase involved 60 teams of two students and a teacher implementing their proposed project, funding of ?10,000 each for execution, and documentation.

Output ranged from motorized boats made out of junk appliances, rainwater collector with filtration system, and use of bamboo leaves in car exhaust to minimize air pollution to plastic made out of tamarind and pedicab for flood transportation made out of melted plastic bottles.

The camp housed the top 20 teams. They will present their projects in front of an audience in Spotlight, where 20 Hyundai scholarships are at stake. These college scholarships can only be used on any science-related course.

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