Students at Khosrov Reserve, taking coordinates for Bearded Vulture nest.
YEREVAN–For the past year, the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment has been working with students from the “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” Educational Complex in Yerevan, organizing ecological and ornithological clubs for the student to participate in a 10-week ecology and 20-week ornithology courses. Through these clubs, Siranush Tumanyan, the Acopian Center’s Education Outreach Specialist, has worked with almost 50 students (45 high-school and 5 middle-school).
Siranush Tumanyan photographed in the US with an American Turkey Vulture
Taught by Tumanyan, these courses have introduced a new way of teaching these topics. “One of our objectives was to improve the methodology of teaching biology and ecology at schools. I believe we have succeeded. While students participate voluntarily, our retention rates have been very high,” says Tumanyan. “Another sign of success is that other teachers at Mkhitar Sebastatsi are now adopting the same teaching methodology.”
As part of the courses, students go on field trips across the country, visiting key sites such as the Khosrov Preserve, Sevan National Park, Byurakan Forest, Armash Fish Pond, and more.
Each student has a blog where they publish articles they write based on these field trips and classes. “What you see in these blogs are budding scientists and researchers,” says Alen Amirkhanian, Interim Director of the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment. “They are a delight to read. They are informative, insightful, and concise.”
Ms. Tumanyan has also worked with some students to translate and create e-books on the topics of ecology and ornithology. The first book, an e-book prepared by the 12-year old Erik Sahakyan, is about bird behavior and is intended for younger audiences. Copies of Mr. Sahakyan’s e-book can be viewed and downloaded from here.
A group of 10 students are now preparing a coloring book about wintering birds in Yerevan. Part of the group is working on preparing the text while the others are drawing the illustrations. This, also, is intended for younger audiences.
The AUA Acopian Center is expanding this outreach program to other schools in Yerevan. In the past month, work has started with Ayb High School, with 15 students selected by Ayb to participate in this program. “This expansion fits with our objectives of community outreach,” says Amirkhanian. “We hope that over the coming year we will be able to secure the resources to include 2 more schools.”