In commemoration of World Environment Day, ScoutsTT, in collaboration with the Institute of Marine Affairs, the Adopt-A-River Programme, the Water Resources Agency and the Extension, Training and Information Services Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, proudly presents Conservation Week 2021.
This is a week of activities designed for you to do at home with your friends and family to highlight environmental conservation.
Over the course of this week we will be looking at the following areas:
- Let’s become bio-literate – What does biodiversity mean?
- Water and You
- Soil Conservation
- Climate tracking and
- Energy Usage and Waste Reduction
Make sure to keep a log of all that you are doing and of course share images and videos with us on social media using the hashtags: #ScoutsTT #ConservationWeek2021.
What badges can I earn?
The activities over this week contribute to the following badges:
- Champions for Nature Challenge
- Tide Turners Plastic Challenge
What do I have to do?
Each day for the entire week, you can pick one activity from any of the 5 sections and try to complete it. Keep a log along with pictures and videos of all that you work on and share it with your leader and members of your group.
Remember, environmental conservation is a lifestyle choice so, although we have it in the spotlight this week, you can continue to use what you learn this week for as long as you want.
Let’s become bio-literate – What does biodiversity mean?
Activity – Bird biodiversity assessment – All Sections
What you need – A copy of this template, a pen or pencil and the list of birds provided here.
Biodiversity has to do with both the number of different species, and the total number of the individuals of that species. We are going to see what the bird biodiversity is around your house. Birds are most active early in the morning and later in the evening. They tend to avoid being out during the middle of the day due to the warmer temperatures. Therefore, the best time to observe birds are in the early morning and later evening. 2) observation periods of 1 hour each should be undertaken. 1 should be between 6 to 9am, while the other should be between 4 to 6 pm. For each 1-hour period you should stay at a fixed position such as on your balcony, porch or backyard which has a view of the trees and sky. Make a note of the type of bird and the number of each bird that you observe on this template.
Use the links as a reference for the different species. If a bird is flying too fast and you cannot identify it, or you cannot see it clearly in the tree, or you are unable to determine the species, record the count in the “Other” section. This website and this one have the more common birds of Trinidad and Tobago. If you see one that you can identify that is not listed, you can add the species name and the count using the blank rows at the bottom of the table.
After your surveys answer the questions below.
- What was your most common species of the birds that you surveyed?
- What was your least common species of the birds that you surveyed?
- What do each of these species eat?
- What can I do to increase both the species diversity and abundance of birds in my neighbourhood?
Fun Activity – Making an Origami Scarlet Ibis
Origami is the art of paper folding. You can use a piece of paper and the instructions found on this website to make your very own origami scarlet ibis
Activity – Plant and tree biodiversity assessment – All Sections
What you need – Some paper and a pen or pencil.
Trees and plants provide a wide range of ecosystem services. These include food (in the form of fruits); improving air quality by filtering out pollutants; reducing the urban heat island effect by providing shade, and also reduce the use of the AC systems for cooling; the store carbon and reduce the rate of climate change; prevent pollution by retaining soils; and provide aesthetical services, walking under a tree canopy has been clearly demonstrated to improve one’s mental wellbeing.
We are going to assess the biodiversity of trees and flowering plants in the small neighbourhood around your home by creating a map. First, figure out which way is north, and make sure when you start drawing you put in the north arrow and orient your map correctly. Draw the outline of the footprint of your house/building and neighbouring houses/buildings looking from directly above, as if you were a bird flying. Draw in the roads around your house/building. Using large dots mark the approximate position of all trees and flowering plants in your small neighbourhood, and include the names of the trees if you can identify them. Pay particular attention to fruit trees.
After you have drawn your map, answer the questions below.
- What animals (could be other wildlife) use the fruit trees in your small neighbourhood for food?
- What animals use the trees in your small neighbourhood for shelter?
- Why are flowering plants important for biodiversity? (hint, it has to do with an insect)
Activity – Coral reefs, the rainforests of the seas – All sections
The Institute of Marine Affairs partnered with the non-governmental organisation SpeSeas to create a virtual underwater experience sponsored by the Maritime Financial, called the Maritime Ocean Collection (https://maritimeoceancollection.com/). 360 degree photography was conducted at a number of reef sites in Tobago. These images were processed and using Google Earth Engine placed on the web so that everyone can experience the reefs of Tobago from anywhere in the world, with the click of a button.
We are going to use the Maritime Ocean Collection to assess the biodiversity of corals and fish on the reefs of Tobago. Go to https://maritimeoceancollection.com/ to read up about the project. If you click on Maps on the top ribbon of the page you will see a map of all the sites where underwater 360 photography was taken.
Under Gallery on the page ribbon there are 3 links for different areas, Northeast Tobago, Southwest Tobago, and Caribbean Coast. Each of these areas has a number of reef locations where site photos were taken. Choose 1 site location from each of the 3 areas to conduct the biodiversity assessment.
This will open the 360 photography in a new window. Take some time to familiarise yourself with the navigation controls. Click and home the left mouse button to move around, use the scroll button to zoom into an area of the photograph. For your chosen photograph you are going to identify some of the coral types and fish, and fill in the information using this table.
You can learn about the different kinds of coral that you will see here.
After you have conducted the surveys, answer the questions below.
- Of the sites which you surveyed, which one do you think was healthiest and why?
- Of the sites which you surveyed, which one did you think were in the poorest condition?
- Which coral type was most abundant out of all of your sites?
- Which fish species was most abundant out of all of your sites?
Water and You
The aim of this section is to develop an appreciation for water and to motivate persons to adopt more sustainable daily habits. Participants should reflect on their daily water use and suggest ways to improve their practices.
Activity – Learning about water conservation
Look at the following videos:
1. Eco fact video 1- There is no New water
2. Eco fact video 2- Fresh water is scarce
3. Eco fact video 3 – Water Saving Tips and Tricks – Let’s Save the Planet
4. Eco fact video 4 – Top 10 water saving tips
After you have view the videos, discuss them with your friends and family and decide on the best water conservation activities. When you have decided on the best ones for your home, share what you have discovered with members of your group.
Activity – Calculate your water footprint
Water is a limited resource which means that we cannot make any more than we already have. Have you ever thought about how much water you and your family use? Simple activities that you do everyday use quite a lot of water. Flushing a toilet for instance can use between 5 and 7 gallons each time. Doing a single load of laundry using a washing machine can sometimes use 40 gallons of water. Even taking a 10-minute shower can use between 25 and 50 gallons of water. Using this Water Usage Estimator, track the amount of water that you use each week.
*“The average person in Trinidad and Tobago consumes 160 gallons of water per day.” WASA 2011
- Where does water come from?
- How can I reduce my water consumption?
- What new water conservation activities will you add to your daily routine?
- Write a song, poem or spoken word (2 verses and a chorus long) about water conservation. Share a video of yourself performing your creation with Adopt a River Programme by emailing [email protected]
Activity – Rain Water Harvesting
The aim of this exercise is to educate participants about Rainwater Harvesting and how it can be used as an alternative source of water. We are fortunate in Trinidad and Tobago to receive quite a lot of rainfall each year, so adding rainwater harvesting systems to some of our buildings would be a great way for us to get a little bit of extra water to use. To learn a little more about this topic, please view this Rainwater Harvesting video. After you have done that, have a look at the following two diagrams showing the roof top method of rainwater harvesting and some common uses for rainwater.
Reflection and Activity:
- Discuss with your friends and family the benefits of rainwater harvesting.
- What are some of the uses of rainwater?
- What is the area where the rain falls and is first collected called?
- Create a functioning rainwater harvesting model using materials you have at home. Share your photos and videos with the Adopt a River Programme on Instagram and Facebook @adoptarivertt by using the hashtag #adoptarivertt
Soil is a mixture of four main ingredients: weathered rock, long-dead plants and animals, air, and water. Soil is important because it provides a place where organisms and bacteria can live. Plants rely on soil for nutrients, water, and mineral salts. Plants in turn provide the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the foundation and building materials we use to make our homes. We would not be able to meet our basic needs without soil!
Soil is washed away into rivers and the oceans if the rain falls on it and there are no trees, plants or grass covering on it. Dry exposed soil could be also blown away by the wind. This is why in Trinidad and Tobago we get the dust from the Sahara Desert. This process where the exposed soil is washed or blown away is called Soil erosion. When we try to prevent the soil from being lost we call this Soil Conservation.
Why Is It Important?
Soil Conservation is important because if we run out of healthy soil, we would be unable to plant the crops that are necessary to feed all of the people and animals on earth.
Activity – Finding out how much soil we must plant on for our food
First get a large unpeeled apple to represent the earth.
Have an adult carefully slice the apple into 4 equal slices.
Since 3/4 of the earth is covered in water, set 3 of the slices aside. The remaining slice represents all of the land on earth.
Now, cut that slice in half. One of those slices represents land that is not suitable for farming (swamps, deserts, arctic regions, etc.), so set that piece aside.
That leaves you with 1/8 of an apple which represents all of the land on earth where people can live and grow crops
Now, cut that slice into 4 equal pieces:
- Piece 1 represents land that is too rocky to farm, so put that one aside.
- Piece 2 represent land that is too wet to farm, so put that one aside.
- Piece 3 represents land that is too hot to farm, so put that one aside.
The remaining piece (1/32 of the entire apple) represents all of the land on earth that can be used for farming.
Have an adult carefully peel the skin off of this piece of apple. Compare the size of that to the rest of the apple that you set aside. This small piece of skin represents all of the soil on earth that we depend on for food.
So, you can see how important it is that we conserve and protect this very limited and important resource.
Activity – Modelling Erosion – Demonstration of how soil is eroded
What you need: plastic bottles, plastic cups, water, soil, sand, gravel, wood chips, clay
Cut plastic bottles in two halves to form a container and a funnel. At the end with the bottle cap (funnel), remove the caps and place a layer of tissue or fine cloth or mesh inside.
Fill each with equal amounts of a variety of soils in the funnel section. You might consider using soil mixed with sand, soil mixed with rocks or gravel, soil mixed with wood chips, or soil mixed with clay. Place these onto the bottom half of the plastic bottles.
Pour equal amounts of water into the containers with the soil mix. Note the amount of time it takes for the water to run off from each type of soil. Also note which one had the most soil in the run off or looked darker.
Examine the water and answer the following questions:
- Which one of the mixture did the water run off faster?
- Which one had the most amount of soil in the run off?
Discuss how you can slow down the water running off quickly
Discuss how you can prevent the soil being washed away.
Plant a seedling or seed in the funnel with soil mix. Repeat Step 3 after three weeks.
Examine the water and answer the following Questions:
- Did the water take a loner time or shorter to run off?
- Which one of the mixture did the water run off faster?
- Which one had the most amount of soil in the run off?
What can you conclude from this?
Activity – Help with Soil Conservation
Plant Trees, Grass, and Flowers in Empty Places
If you plant trees, grass, and flowers where there are no plants, you can prevent soil from eroding. You can sometimes find tree seeds on the ground or you can go to the Garden Shops to buy seeds and plants. Not only does this help soil conservation, it can give you a nice place to play and it makes the space more beautiful.
Go to the garden shop and purchase a plant. This could be a fruit tree or any plant of your choice.
Have an adult locate an area that is suitable to plant.
With the assistance of an adult dig a hole large enough so that the bottom of the plant (where all the roots are) could fit into the hole.
Tamp down or press the soil around the plant so it stays upright and firmly in the ground. Water and continue watering regularly.
You have now planted a tree and has assisted in conserving soil and prevented it from being washed away.
Climate refers to the weather that exists over a long period of time. For us to learn about the climate that we experience, we need to measure the weather continuously for a period of time. This will help us to know if our climate is changing.
There are several different aspects of weather that we should measure to get an understanding of our climate. These include: Rainfall, temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity and pressure, just to name a few.
For this section, we will be looking at how you can measure and track two aspects of weather, Rainfall and wind direction.
Activity – Tracking Rainfall – All Sections
How is rainfall measured?
Rain gauges are the most common tool for measuring rain, but how do they actually work? What are some other ways we measure precipitation?
These are different types of precipitation, but what does ‘precipitation‘ mean? When we talk about precipitation, we are talking about water that is falling out of the sky, this could be rain, drizzle, snow, sleet or hail.
Rainfall measurement Unit
The most common rainfall measurement is the total rainfall depth during a given period, expressed in millimetres (mm). For instance, we might want to know how many millimetres of rain fell over the course of 1 h, 1 day, 1 month, or 1 year.
The minimum rainfall for a day to be declared a rainy day is 0.2mm.
How to make a homemade Rainfall Gauge.
What you need:
- An empty two-litre plastic bottle (The chosen bottle should have a uniform diameter along most of its length, preferred bottles – Solo or Canning’s)
- A few handfuls of clean pebbles, gravel, or marbles
- Masking tape
- Permanent marker
- Paper and pencil
- Watch, cell phone, or clock
- Calculator or cell phone
- Open area outside
- Carefully use the scissors/knife to cut the top of the bottle off at the wide part just below where it begins to get narrow.
- Put the pebbles in the bottom of the bottle—these will help keep it from getting blown over if it’s windy.
- Turn the top of the bottle upside down—make sure there’s no cap on it! (Remove cap) It’s going to act like a funnel—and place it in the bottom part of the bottle, pointing downward. Line up the cut edges and tape them together so the top part is held firmly in place.
- Use a long piece of masking tape to make a straight vertical line from the top edge of the bottle to the bottom. Use the marker to draw a line on the vertical piece of tape just a little above the top of the pebbles. This will be the bottom of your rain gauge.
- Set the ruler against the vertical tape so that the “0.0” line lines up with the bottom mark. Use the marker to mark every centimetre and half-centimetre along the piece of tape. Then label the centimetre from bottom to top. (Alternatively, you can mark inches and half-inches instead.)
- Set the bottle on a level surface and pour some water in until it reaches the bottom mark. Your rain gauge is now ready to go!
- Put the rain gauge outdoors—you’ll need to pick a really good spot! You want somewhere level that’s open to the sky and that’s not likely to get too windy, where the gauge isn’t likely to be disturbed. There shouldn’t be anything hanging over the gauge that could either block any rain or make extra raindrops drip into the bottle (like a tree or a power line or the edge of a roof).
- Pay attention to the forecast. On a day that you’re likely to get rain, make sure the water in the bottom hasn’t evaporated below your bottom mark; if it has, refill it to that mark.
- If it rains within 24 hours, check your gauge at 8.00am and see how high the water is now. That’s how much rain has fallen in the last day! On your piece of paper, make a note of the date and the amount of rainfall. Then read the newspaper or go online and find out the official amount of rainfall in your area for the day and make a note of it—see how closely your figure matches the official one! You can also check Meteorological office website and the Water Resources Agency.
- Repeat steps 8-9 for several days.
Activity – Tracking wind direction
The direction of the wind can change sometimes. Usually when that happens, a change in the weather follows. By making your own weather vane, you can record when changes in the wind direction happen and if the weather changes when it does.
What you need:
- A piece of clay (a ball of stiff dough can also work or a cup filled with some dirt)
- Square piece of cardboard (a piece from a cereal box will do)
- Pencil with a fresh eraser
- Construction paper
- Markers or crayons
You can check out this website for directions of how to build the weather vane. Place it somewhere that receives a lot of wind and note the direction that the arrow points. You can use a compass to help you tell the direction. You can place a stone too near to the wind vane to help you remember which way is North.
Energy Usage and Waste Reduction
Activity – Learning about Energy – Cubs
We need energy to do everything. As humans, we get our energy from the food that we eat. Our homes need electrical energy to power our appliances, provide lights and even to let us get access to the internet. In our country we generate our electricity from non-renewable energy sources, this means that someday they will run out. A better approach would be for us to use renewable energy to generate our electricity. Renewable energy will never run out and it is better for our planet too.
To learn more about renewable energy, click here to access our Understanding Energy Activity sheet.
Activity – Learning how much Electricity you use – All sections
What you need: An android device with internet connectivity
Go onto the Google play store and download the EnergySmarTT app.
The goal of the app is to make the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago EnergySmarTT. The app provided is an educational tool used for sharing the benefits and opportunities energy efficiency offer for addressing climate change, potential monetary savings and connecting people interested in Energy Efficiency (EE) / Energy Conservation (EC) / Renewable Energy (RE) projects.
The app has five main functions:
- My consumption – An energy calculator for understanding how using a particular device could affect your pocket and carbon footprint
- Switch and Save – A cost benefit analysis to illustrate the overall savings of purchasing EE products
- Energy Saving Tips – Simple steps households can make to become more energy efficient
- Locate Energy Saving Products – This feature enables EE product suppliers and consumers that are interested in EE products to connect
- Useful Resources – Provides access to links that give greater context on the developments in energy efficiency and renewable energy within the region and globally.
Go onto the My consumption section and enter all the information for the appliances in your home calculate your electricity cost. Try switching some of your appliances on the app to more energy efficient ones and see how much money you can save. Share this information with your parents. Together you can compare the cost of the new appliance with the savings that switching will provide. For fun, you can try to calculate how long it would take for your savings to pay back for the new appliance.
Activity – Bottle Composter – All Sections
What you need:
- 2 litre Plastic Bottles
- Vegetable Scraps
- Soil (from outside)
- Dry leaves
- Pair of Scissors/Knife
- Shredded Newspaper
- Water spray bottle
- Peel Labels off both bottles and give a quick rinse.
- Under adult supervision, use scissors/knife to cut 3 inches off the top of the bottle. Save it for later.
- Use nail to make small holes at the bottom and side of bottle (Approx. 12 holes)
- Add Approx. 3 inches of soil, dried leaves and shredded newspaper into bottle.
- Wet the layer with water using the water spray bottle.
- Add Vegetable scraps to compost bottle.
- Use the bottle top, upside down to cover the top of bottle.
- Place compost bottle on plate and put in an area where sunlight is present e.g window sill
- Use a stick to turn content in bottle daily to ensure aeration. Also add water to maintain moisture inside bottle.
- Compost is ready to use when texture is crumbly and resembles dark top soil.
The important things to remember:
- Earth worms can be a great addition to the bottle compost.
- Other materials can be added such as tea bags, bread, fruit scraps. Don’t use meats, fats, bones or plastic in compost.
- Buckets or bins can be used for a bigger version.
- If compost is smelly, too much water is the problem. Add dry leaves, grass, paper and mix the material.