MNH launches PH’s first mobile natural history learning on bus

MNH launches PH’s first mobile natural history learning on bus
Julianne Afable

The UPLB Museum of Natural History proudly soft-launched last 6-8 March 2024 its project dubbed as “Museum on-Wheels” during the University of the Philippines Los Baños’ 115th Foundation Day Celebration by holding two learning sessions for Grade 5 and Department of Education (DepEd) Senior High School (SHS) students from two schools in Los Baños.

Museum on Wheels is an initiative aimed to reach museum-goers and other audiences beyond institutional walls, into areas of CALABARZON region, and hopefully, other parts of the country, where people have yet to experience and learn more on natural history, biodiversity, and its conservation.

The project extends the MNH’s mandate on inclusivity and universal access to natural history collections and information.

According to Dr. Marian P. De Leon, museum director and concurrent Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor for Research and Extension, the project relies on a “bus which was customized as a mobile learning facility, with multimedia equipment for an interactive learning experience for students and visitors.”

The bus has actually already served thousands of Filipino students as it was formerly operated by the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) as the “Science Explorer Bus.”

“The Science Explorer Bus is now on its new journey, this time to focus more on Philippine biodiversity,” says Dr. De Leon.

On 7 March, 14 Grade 5 students from The Learning Place, International based in Los Baños were part of the first batch of students to attend a 90-minute learning experience inside the Museum on Wheels. MNH staff from the Botanical Herbarium prepared an interactive session related to botanical illustration and botanical art.

Meanwhile, 25 senior high school students from Bayog Senior High School had their learning experience in the morning of 8 March. They attended a session wherein they observed plants which were growing in areas outside the bus. Using guide cards and field note worksheets which the Botanical Herbarium has developed, students described some wayside plants based on features such as inflorescence type and structure, leaf margin, shape, and arrangement.

Due to public interest in the activity, the MNH held a special session open to the public for kids aged 10-15 years old in the afternoon of 8 March.  Fourteen, mainly homeschooled, kids attended the activity held at the AGORA Hub near UPLB Baker Hall. During the session, the children learned on the wonderful endemic parasitic flower, Rafflesia leonardi, and drew their own colorful renditions of the plant on paper.

The current operation of Museum on Wheels is being supported by a Commission on Higher Education (CHED)-funded program called “Promoting Agroforest Stewardship and Ecological Observations through Edutourism” or PASEO. With the PASEO grant, the bus was decorated to feature different species of organisms found inside Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve and even in the UPLB campus.

“Once we have the means to expand our operations, we will surely be excited to go on major road trips to bring the mobile museum experience to other places which will encourage more students to visit our physical museum in UPLB and other notable destinations inside the campus,” says Dr. De Leon.


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