March 14, 2012

Kids Get Wet to Learn About Coral Reefs in Indonesia


By Jenny Willis, Reef Check Indonesia

A group of children from Bali’s Green School are some of Indonesia’s newest Reef Checkers, thanks to an adventurous education program. Run by Indonesia’s learning adventure company, Odyssey Institute, the program was designed to complement the school’s curriculum, which has a conservation theme.

Odyssey’s Program director Brad Korpalski said the kids learned about the Reef Check survey method during their stay in West Bali National Park.

“We held a discussion about coral reefs and the type of information we were looking to collect, and what that information means,” Brad said.

“We had the students practice on the beach by using Reef Check’s indicator species marine cards, and in the shallow water, before attempting to survey a pre-determined transect.”

Brad said the reef monitoring was challenging for the kids – especially the substrate survey, but they really seemed to enjoy the learning.

“I think students are the perfect people to get involved in this type of effort. They can easily involve monitoring in school clubs or weekend adventures, and tend to have time and energy to contribute. I think it [the program] was a success. So much so, that we are getting our Reef Check EcoDiver certification to continue the program and establish the site as an official monitoring location. The school group in the film will be the first to make an official submission to the database in May.”


Odyssey Institute is one of the only experiential education organizations in Bali and Brad says they are firm believers that the best education results from direct experience, and the best experiences are those in which we are holistically (spiritually, mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally) involved.

“Spending time in the ocean in remote corners of Bali is a great way to get connected with a world outside the one we’ve created. In the end, you simply hope someone’s going to be impacted enough to make future decisions that take into account a world bigger than ourselves. Also, the reef monitoring provides a tangible action to the thought of ‘I want to make a difference.’”

“We always challenge students creatively with our projects. So while we did a beach clean up, we also provided them the space to use the garbage to make art and create and deliver a message about conservation. I think they did a skit using all the flip-flops and Red Bull bottles they found!”

Brad says part of their mission is to support local NGOs and communities through the provision of resources to enable specific projects and create sustainable livelihoods. Reef Check Foundation Indonesia is one of those NGOs.

Check out a fun video about the program here.