The lack of educational materials related to nature motivated STINAPA and the other nature NGOs (non-governmental organizations) of Bonaire to begin an education department within the Foundation.
The first item on the ‘to do’ list was to make materials. It was suggested that we should start with the earliest age possible. Several topics were chosen and materials created around these topics. The materials were stored in plastic boxes and since then we call them ‘Educational Boxes’.
They deal with different topics such as Sea Turtles, Birds, Bats, Fishes, Corals, Plants, and Trees. The boxes are geared toward two separate age groups: 6-9 years old and 10-12 years old. The boxes contain materials about the specific subjects. These materials include posters, videos, models of animals, games etc. There is also a teacher’s guide, with background information, activities, and other nice ideas to help the children learn about the subjects in the boxes. All the teachers we work with have a collection of the teacher guides included with all the boxes.
The Educational Boxes are unique because they deal specifically with nature on Bonaire. They have great appeal to the children because the children are able to see everything in their own, everyday environment.
Workshops and courses are regularly organized for Bonaire’s schoolteachers, to give them the opportunity to learn more about the subjects of the Boxes and the materials within them. Both theory and practical work are emphasized. For example, during the teacher’s Fish course theoretical session, fish in general were discussed, followed by the fishes of Bonaire. A snorkel course was then organized to enable the teachers to watch the fish in their natural environment.
During the school year, the Educational Boxes are distributed among the primary schools. Each box is on loan to a school for a period of six weeks, after which the box moves on to another school.
The boxes were financed by SOFNA, Stichting Ontwikkelingsfonds Nederlandse Antillen (the Netherlands Antilles Education Foundation), and MINA, Milieu en Natuur Nederlandse Antillen (the Netherlands Antilles Environment and Nature Foundation).