Sawadee ka to everyone back home! We’ve just spent the last two weeks on our Pollution unit, and I am so proud of our students! This is one of the most difficult of all of the environmental science units, incorporating concepts from physical science, biology, and chemistry. Our students are truly gaining an understanding of this interdisciplinary science, and it’s leading me to reflect on this Thrival experience from a perspective of teaching and learning.
When I saw last year that Thrival was hiring an environmental science teacher, I was beside myself with excitement – not because it meant spending three months in Thailand for me (though it is a really great perk!), but because of what it means for our learners. Learning science tells us that experiential, real-world is absolutely the best way for everyone to learn. More areas of our brains are used, which reinforces our ability to make connections and to recall information. In the past nine days of classes, students have learned about the acute and chronic effects of heavy metals and hazardous chemicals on human health; soil and water contamination; current practices in municipal and hazardous waste disposal; global water use in developed and developing countries; AND we have visited both a local landfill and Kohn Kaen’s water treatment plant – connecting and extending our classroom learning.
We teachers, under the leadership of Ms. Hui, develop our units collaboratively to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to our units – another highly effective strategy to enhance learning. The Pollution unit is part of a larger, school-wide unit on Mining and Development, which prepares us for our upcoming homestay, where we will examine the challenges faced by the villagers of Na Nong Bong after the construction of a gold mine in the mountainous area above them. Our semester in Indianapolis was spent preparing for the in-depth science inquiry that we are doing here, and I can see that our students’ hard work is paying off as we bring it all together to study the social and environmental impact of the mine on the affected communities.
Additionally, more students are committing to take the AP environmental science exam in May, as they realize how much they’ve learned this school year. If you have any questions about the exam and your child, or any other topic, please feel welcome to reach out to me!