The largest aquarium in the Middle East, The National Aquarium at Al Qana in Abu Dhabi, today announced the launch of “Professor’s Aquademy.” It is a first of its kind programme intended to inspire the school children at the aquarium. The curriculum will cover four key topics from the UAE’s coastal heritage to conservation. These are designed to share knowledge and spark interest in the natural world amongst the younger generations. Until at which time school excursions recommence, The National Aquarium will be offering free online sessions to the education community…with a twist.
In response to the new challenges presented by Covid-19, The National Aquarium is launching ‘Professor’s Aquademy’ virtually to schools. Students will be able to nominate one teacher from their school to visit the aquarium and livestream the experience with the students. The nominated teacher will need to “face their fears” and enter the habitats for a hands-on teaching experience with ‘Professor’ the water monitor lizard, rehabilitated Sea Turtles and other iconic animals from all around the world. During the interactive video session, the education team will introduce informative and fun topics to provide a flavour of the aquarium’s innovative school tours to the students.
‘Professor’ the water monitor lizard, was hand-reared and trained by a certified breeding facility in the United States (Los Angeles) that meets all the international standards. The ‘Professor’ started his career in Hollywood pictured with numerous celebrities but now in Abu Dhabi, his role as education ambassador will help many young people access the wonders of the natural world at the aquarium. The Water Monitor is a good ambassador for this programme because as a species, it plays a key role in forests, rivers and coastlines, moving across multiple habitats, which are all represented within The National Aquarium’s ten zones.
Education is a priority for The National Aquarium to enlighten all generations on the natural world around them, and the concept of conservation. Inspired by Baba Dioum, a celebrated Senegalese environmentalist, this programme is designed to open school children’s minds through knowledge and understanding. Baba Dioum’s quote motivates the education team every day, “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”
Aspen Heights British School, a part of International Schools Partnership – a global group of international school, is the first school to visit ‘Professor’, creating a lot of excitement and anticipation for the upcoming educational programme. A professional marine biologist and trained educators from The National Aquarium answered the many questions the students had about ‘Professor’ during the online class. The education team explained the importance of preserving the marine environment and how to protect the animals. Since environmental awareness is an important part of the daily lives of students at Aspen Heights British School, this visit was included as part of their biology classes.
Emma Shanahan, Principal for Aspen Heights British School said: “We are excited to be the first school to meet ‘Professor’ and work with The National Aquarium education team. This meeting fits well with our focus on providing hands-on learning opportunities for our students at Aspen Heights British School. Our children are passionate about the natural world, and an important part of our curriculum focuses on the ocean, how our students interact with their natural environment and sustainability. Through this unique online lesson our students were able to develop an awareness and support them in being more conscious about the world around them. Meeting ‘Professor’ has brought learning to life for them, answered a lot of their questions, all while giving them even more to think about.”
Anne Bourbon, Manager of Education & Conservation at The National Aquarium said: “The introduction of our education program and ‘Professor’ is an important component of the aquarium’s ethos – becoming a regional role model in both conservation and education. At The National Aquarium, we always look for fun, interactive and responsible ways to educate our community and visitors. What we are offering is an approach to learn by getting closer to animals and their environments, with the desire of inspiring young minds to reconnect with nature and think of solutions to achieving a sustainable future. We are convinced that playful learning (edutainment) can have a positive and appealing impact on a child’s education. “Monitor Lizards are fascinating animals and ‘Professor’ is an excellent choice as our ambassador since he grew up in close contact with people, particularly children. Moreover, he also represents the connection between land and aquatic environments. He will be the star of our school programs and we are thrilled to introduce him to the students in the UAE for a memorable experience.”
Schools and teachers in Abu Dhabi can request a free online educational session to meet ‘Professor’ and set up a video conference call. Ultimately, these educational programmes will be held in person at The National Aquarium when restrictions lift.
For requests, contact The National Aquarium education department [email protected]