Lessons from the wild: UAE teachers to host remote classes from The National Aquarium

Pupils will nominate their favourite teacher to interact with a carnivorous water monitor lizard

Aspen Heights British School hosting the first remote class from The National Aquarium’s Flooded Forest Zone. Courtesy Aspen Heights British School
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Teachers will be sent "into the wild" by their pupils to host remote classes among the thousands of marine animals at The National Aquarium in Abu Dhabi.

Those nominated by their pupils will be forced to face their fears by interacting with turtles, carnivorous three-metre lizards and other exotic sea creatures.

Through the live stream, pupils will meet Professor, the aquarium's resident water monitor lizard and education ambassador.

Pupils will learn about the water monitor species, which includes the Komodo dragon, and the key role it plays in forests, rivers and along coastlines.

Aspen Heights British School hosting the first remote class from The National Aquarium’s Flooded Forest Zone. Courtesy Aspen Heights British School
Aspen Heights British School was the first to host a remote class at The National Aquarium’s Flooded Forest Zone. Courtesy: Aspen Heights British School

The teaching programme, named Professor's Aquademy, seeks to get children excited and interested in marine life and its conservation – especially because school excursions are suspended under Covid-19 restrictions.

"Playful learning can have a positive and appealing impact on a child’s education," said Anne Bourbon, manager of education and conservation at The National Aquarium.

“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."

The programme will include lessons on the UAE's coastal heritage and conservation.

School trips were suspended in March because of the pandemic but will resume at the aquarium once authorities consider academic excursions to be safe again.

Until then, the aquarium will hold free online sessions streamed from the centre.

Aspen Heights British School was the first to take part in the programme and send a teacher to visit the aquarium.

A marine biologist answered questions from pupils and explained the importance of preserving the marine environment as well as how to protect the animals.

"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," said Emma Shanahan, principal at Aspen Heights British School.

"Through this online lesson our students were able to develop an awareness and [we] 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, while giving them even more to think about.”

Schools and teachers in Abu Dhabi can request a free online educational session to meet Professor and set up a video conference call.