Trailblazers


Extending utilization of WELL
November 17, 2009, 5:39 PM
Filed under: WELL

Today, a meeting was held in WELL, with geographers, environmentalists, history teachers and primary school teachers. The different groups of specialists were gathered here today to maxmize development of the different aspects of WELL. Ms Tan Beng Chiak, the Subject Head of Innovation of Raffles Girls’ School (RGS), and Mrs Julie Hoo, Principal of RGS, chaired the meeting. They explained why the different individuals were gathered here – for a common purpose, which was to form the WELL committee. They would be able to book the WELL facilities free of charge, and of course, contribute to the development of WELL.

Ms Tan introduced Trailblazers to the different groups of specialists, citing our Nature Adventure Walk (NAW) as a contribution to WELL, and publicizing our NAW to them, extending invitations to them to arrange for their primary school students to participate in our NAW.

After introductions and explanations on the WELL committee, it was time for some hands-on activities – a guided tour of the Wallace Trail by Dr Shawn Lum and Mr Lim Cheng Puay. Trailblazers followed Dr Shawn Lum for a short walk in the Wallace trail, where he introduced the history of WELL as well as some background information of Sir Alfred Russel Wallace. Dr Lum pointed out several interesting plant species throughout the trail, and we even spotted a rare type of fungi that was in a shape of a cauliflower!

While walking the trail, Trailblazers managed to introduce our project to Ms Durai, a journalist with The Straits Times. We gave her a brief overview of our project, about why we chose to work on the problem of children not having enough interaction with nature and to conduct NAW as a solution, our station activities in NAW, how our trial runs of NAW went, as well as our achievements and feedback thus far.

The groups of specialists then broke into their separate groups and discussed about the utilization of WELL, after which some teachers approached our team to learn more about our project, which we introduced using our 3D map of our trail in WELL, our NAW booklet and photographs of our trial runs of NAW as well as our trip to WELL with Malaysian students and our NAW during the Nature Learning Camp. Some primary school teachers were interested in arranging for their students to participate in our NAW and left their contact details.

Mrs Julie Hoo, Principal of RGS, speaking to the groups of specialists

Ms Tan Beng Chiak speaking to the groups of specialists

Ms Durai, a journalist with The Straits Times, sitting at our booth

 

Dr Shawn Lum bringing us on a guided walk in the Wallace Trail

Trailblazers is glad for this opportunity to publicize our project to different groups of specialists and also to learn about the future utilization of WELL. We look forward to future collaborations with the different groups of specialists, especially the primary school teachers.

We have been receiving positive feedback from primary school teachers about our NAW, and we would be happy to extend our invitation to the public to sign up their children for our NAW. For more information about our NAW, please go here.

The Trailblazers

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Nature Learning Camp
November 15, 2009, 5:09 PM
Filed under: Nature Adventure Walk, WELL

A few days ago, on 12th November to be specific, Trailblazers conducted a trail for 8 children as a part of the Nature Learning Camp (NLC) at the Wallace Environmental Centre. The children, aged from p4 to p5, came from Marsiling Primary School, Henry Park Primary School and Corporation Primary School. As we were only given 1.5 hours with the students, we modified the activities in our Nature Adventure Walk (NAW) to accommodate the timing.

After quick introductions and preparations, we began our walk! We were able to conduct our Wallace Trail and Unnatural Walk stations outdoors, but due to sudden rainfall, we were forced to proceed with Dog and Bone indoors.

Nevertheless, it went on very smoothly and the children had a great time participating in our NAW. It was a huge success! We took countless photos with the participants and even interviewed them. They all had very positive feedback regarding our trail, and expressed interest in future nature-related activities. Through this NAW, Trailblazers got to know the participants well, and everyone enjoyed themselves thoroughly and could not bear to leave. At the end of it all, Ms Sim Chor Miang, the organizer of this NLC, thanked us for contributing to the success of the NLC and congratulated us for a job well done.

Trailblazers is extremely thankful for the opportunity to participate in this NLC, and would like to thank Ms Sim for kindly inviting us to be a part of it. Thanks also goes out to Ms Tan Beng Chiak for helping us during the NLC and throughout the entire process of designing our NAW, and of course, all the 8 fun and enthusiastic participants!

Group picture!

Trailblazers with participants at NLC

The Trailblazers



The History of WELL
September 9, 2009, 5:45 PM
Filed under: WELL

Hi everyone!

Today Trailblazers wants to share with you the rich and exciting history of Dairy Farm Nature Park, of which WELL (where we conduct our walks) is a part of. :D :D The plot of land which is now Dairy Farm Nature Park has gone through a lot of transformation throughout the years and it shows clearly how Singapore developed over time.

Do you ever wonder why the Wallace Education Centre is named like that? Why Wallace and not Charles or Frederick or Bob? Well, it’s because of Alfred Russell Wallace! He was Charles Darwin’s good friend and helped to come up with many ideas in the theory of evolution. In the 1850s when he was exploring the Malay Archipelago, he was amazed by the amount of biodiversity found in this small patch of forest that is now the Dairy Farm Nature Park! He was intrigued by the many beetles and butterflies and he often trekked through the forest alone collecting specimens, even in spite of tigers lurking around. How brave, what passion!

In the 1920s and 1930s, Dairy Farm was not a dairy farm at all! Instead, it was a pig farm! A few large Berkshire boars were imported and crossbred with local sows, and they quickly multiplied into 1200 pigs in 3 years. However, this farm could not last long. In 1930, an epidemic of swine fever (80 years earlier than swine flu!) broke out on the farm and 900 pigs died.

At that time, supply of fresh milk for Magnolia came from small dairies chiefly under the control of the Bengali community, keeping Indian breeds and Murra buffaloes. However, milk was of inferior quality and “a thin bluish-white liquid not infrequently flavored with cow dung and usually speckled with dead flies”. The cows were “sad and emaciated… wandering aimlessly around the waste land barely nourished by the coarse and wiry buffalo grass”. It was definitely not something anyone would enjoy.

Since the pig farm was no longer sustainable, the next best project was milk production. It was decided that Cold Storage should manufacture its own milk products to ensure hygiene and quality. A free-growing hybrid grass was found to be comparable to grass in temperate dairy farms, and was used as food for the cows instead of local grass species, which weren’t palatable. The milk was sold in nostalgic tiga penjuru or pyramid shaped Tetra Pak cartons which were very convenient. The people living there also planted many food trees like durian, curry and coffee among others.

The old tetra pak milk packaging.

Eventually however, the place was abandoned. There are still many houses and traces of old pots and stone lying around today, which were once used by the people then! Now, the plot of land has been declared a Nature Park and it is frequently visited by people of all ages.

dairyfarm 11 by emberloved.

This is one of the abandoned houses. Haunted?

Hope you’ve learnt much more about WELL through our post today!

Signing off,
The Trailblazers



Launch of WELL
September 5, 2009, 6:46 PM
Filed under: WELL
Today marked the launch of the Wallace Environmental Learning Laboratory (WELL), as well as the Wallace Education Centre (WEC), which are housed in the 63 hectare Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP).

This lab serves to provide field studies education for schools and has the capability to house a class of 40 or more at each time. Courses in basic or advanced environmental studies such as soil studies, aquatic invertebrate studies, quadrat sampling, forest studies can be conducted there.

The environmental laboratory has a nice library with a good selection of natural history and environmental titles and also a good series of documentaries.

-Mr Lim Cheng Puay, RGS Teacher-In-Charge of projects at WELL

Trailblazers collaborated with another CmPS group, Branches, to prepare a BUTTERFLY BOOTH catered to children at the launch of WELL. We prepared decorations for the wall, origami butterflies with step-by-step instructions on how to fold them, a blackboard for visitors to paste their butterflies on it as a pledge of conservation of nature, and other activities for children to do like butterfly colouring and a butterfly 3D puzzle.

All in all, the launch of WELL was a total success! Our butterfly booth was kept busy and was extremely popular  among the school children who came. Shiren and Ankita, the group leaders of Traiblazers and Branches, even got the chance to talk to Mr Mah Bow Tan, the Guest of Honour for the launch of WELL, who is also the Minister for National Development.

Through preparing for the launch of WELL, Trailblazers has learnt much about butterflies, and will be sure to use this knowledge in future activities such as the upcoming Nature Adventure Walk.

Trailblazers is extremely thankful for this chance for collaboration with Branches and NParks, and looks forward to other opportunites for collaboration in the future.

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Wall decorated with butterflies

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Wallace Education Centre

WELL

Wallace Education Centre

The Trailblazers



Hello
September 2, 2009, 11:33 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hello everyone :)

Welcome to our wordpress! You may click on the Pages (found in the sidebar on the left) for more details about us Trailblazers. As our blog is new, there isn’t much up yet, but be sure to watch this space for future updates!