AN APPMAZING ADVENTURE AWAITS AT SINGAPORE ZOO

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE, FAJAR SECONDARY SCHOOL AND NANYANG POLYTECHNIC COLLABORATE ON FREE IPHONE APP

Singapore, 14 March 2012Singapore Zoo is going digital with Education@zoo, a new iPhone application (app) which is a handy education guide that complements one’s zoo visit with rich multimedia contents and interesting facts of animals. The joint effort by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), Fajar Secondary School and Nanyang Polytechnic even features an Augmented Reality function which shows users the direction and distance to attractions and amenities, and a Learning Journey to learn and test one’s animal knowledge.

Fajar Secondary School approached WRS with the idea early last year as the school wanted to work on an iPhone app project outside of the classroom that would involve the entire Secondary 1 cohort. Education@zoo app is closely linked to the lower secondary science syllabus on ecology in which the students did research to gather data such as the animals’ natural habitat, adaptation, diet, food chain, endangered status and conservation efforts through a problem-based learning (PBL) pedagogical approach.

The students were also exposed to talks on conservation issues and underwent training to equip them with guiding skills as part of the social learning experience.

Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Information Technology was roped in as Fajar’s partner institution to design and develop the app as they had worked together on other projects to further enhance students’ learning prior to this collaboration.

The project is the first of its kind to have been awarded a Ministry of Education grant that involves a third party. The grant was used to purchase eight iPads and six iPhones for the school to begin their project. It also funded the expertise engaged to develop the app.

App users also have access to an interactive map, visitor information, performances and show timings, enrichment facts and videos of animals and Singapore Zoo’s monthly newsletter, Wildlife Times.

“WRS is always keen to partner with schools to promote conservation education. This initiative empowers the students to contribute to generate conservation awareness for nature conservation. It also provides them with valuable learning and social experiences. Through this creative learning platform, we also hope to inspire increasingly technology-savvy visitors and families to be excited about wildlife and conservation,” said Ms May Lok, Director, Education, WRS.

“The development of the iPhone and iPad app not only increases the students’ motivation to learn science beyond the classroom context but also increases their awareness of conservation and the important role Singapore Zoo plays in it. The students’ learning of Ecology through PBL is authentic and the research that they have done on the different types of animals in the zoo is consolidated and made into a real life application that is useful to both the students and the public,” said Mr Mohamed Faizal, Level Head Science, Fajar Secondary School.

The app was officially launched during the Fajar@Zoo Appmazing Race at Singapore Zoo this morning. Students from Macpherson Primary School whizzed around the wildlife park, scrambling to complete a circuit of stations using this app.

Education@Zoo is the Top #1 featured education app in app store in Mar 2012. iPhone users can download it from the app store. It will be available for at least two years.

A Fajar Secondary student accesses the interactive map function on the Education@Zoo iPhone app, to navigate to the next station during the Fajar@Zoo Appmazing Race. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
Students from Fajar Secondary School guide their Macpherson Primary buddies to the correct answers, using the Education@Zoo iPhone app. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
Macpherson Primary students engage with the Education@Zoo app while their Fajar Secondary School guides look on. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

1 BIRD PARK, 40 BIRD HOUSES!

JURONG BIRD PARK TEAMS UP WITH STUDENTS TO BUILD BIRDHOUSES TO ENCOURAGE NESTING

Singapore, 22 March 2011 – In conjunction with Earth Day 2011 and Jurong Bird Park’s 40th anniversary, the world’s largest bird park is working with students from Nanyang Polytechnic and Greenridge Primary School to build 40 bird houses. Some of the bird houses will be placed in the two schools, as well as in Jurong Bird Park’s African Waterfall Aviary and Southeast Asian Birds Aviary, and are a part of the Park’s ongoing efforts towards conservation and education.

These bird houses, also known as nest boxes, will advocate nesting of small birds such as love birds, starlings, magpie robins, fairy blue-birds, and white-rumped shamas at the aviaries. Such bird houses are presently provided in the aviaries to minimise aggression and competition for nesting sites when breeding season comes round. These bird houses have proven to be popular, with 80-90% of them utilised every season.

On 22 March, an avian keeper will teach and supervise students as they build and paint the bird houses at a day learning session. Held at the Bird Discovery Centre in the Bird Park, students will have the opportunity to learn more about the different species of birds, nature and habitats available at the park. Members of the public are also invited to visit the park a day after Earth Day on 23 April 2011, where the students will get a chance to engage visitors and assist them in building individual bird houses.

“Jurong Bird Park has evolved from a recreational park into a centre for bird life, with a strong focus on education and conservation. Education plays a pivotal role in the area of conservation and we believe it is crucial for all our guests to be aware of, and understand the importance of biodiversity. Through this, we hope this will inspire our guests, even the very young, to develop a passion for bird life,” said Ms Fanny Lai, Group Chief Executive Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

She added, “Bird houses are considered scientific tools when used properly since a great deal of learning can be done by observing birds in them. A good example is the bird house we designed for the Oriental pied hornbill project which led to a successful nationwide re-introduction programme. Bird houses also play an important role in the conservation of birds in heavily populated urban areas like Singapore where very few natural nesting places are found. Birds have different physical and behavioral needs, thus there is not one bird house that is suitable to all. The types of birds that will nest on a garden, yard or property are largely determined by the habitat. As such, a mixture of habitats may attract a greater number of birds back to Singapore. I hope more schools and organisations will come forward to build more bird houses to revive bird life in Singapore.”

As part of this project, Nanyang Polytechnic and Greenridge Primary School will be placing three and five bird houses respectively, on their school compound. These bird houses are targeted to provide a habitat for magpie robins to nest.

“Getting our students to be involved in the bird house project is a small but important step in bringing them closer to nature and especially in caring for our feathered friends. This project will certainly get the students to think about creative ways in making bird houses, and we look forward to their excitement when the schoolyard evolves from a simple garden to a sensorial environment where students can actually get closer to bird life,” said Mrs Chew Lai Mun, Principal, Greenridge Primary School.

Bird houses that will be placed in the Southeast Asian Birds Aviary are painted in earth tones such as khaki green, brown and black, with illustrations of rainforest elements. Although non¬toxic paint is used, bird houses are not painted for the African Waterfall Aviary due to the differences in behavioural characteristics of the birds. Birds in the African Waterfall Aviary have strong beaks, and there is the possibility of them nibbling and scraping off the paint, while their counterparts in the Southeast Asian Birds Aviary have soft bills, which minimise that possibility.

Greenridge Primary students hard at work assembling
Primary students adding colour to the assembled bird houses
A sea of happy faces