Youth Environment Science Virtual Exchange - Galapagos and Germany

Leslie León
09 Dec 20 /
Juan Manuel García-CDF
Shark-Ambassadors Group of the Education and Community Program ECO.

Youth-Environment-Science: CDF Shark Ambassadors Galapagos and ICARUS-Ambassadors of MaxCine Germany began a virtual exchange.

The Charles Darwin Foundation's Education and Community Outreach Program (ECO Program) and the Communication and Outreach Center "MaxCine" of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior have been holding virtual conferences through their education programs. The age group for both organizations is between 12 and 21 years old. The goal of these online sessions is to share common interests.

This idea came from an agreement between the ECO Program and MaxCine institutions that took place few years ago. Currently, both institutions maintain environmental education and scientific education programs, implemented through their young science groups. Here the students attend activities which are focused on experience education and conservation as well as activities encouraging young geniuses and gain insights in daily science.

The first meeting, exclusively in virtual format, was attended by 32 students from both institutions. The teens made contact via email and online messenger. The students exchanged information related to their favorite activities, hobbies and interests, through photographs and videos. In these sessions, meetings were planned to 'get to know each other' virtually through video conferences.

Initially, we believed that language could be a limiting factor in communication, however, it did not interfere too much with the communication, as students are making a huge effort to understand each other, in English and even in Spanish.

This initiative supports the students to connect and learn from other youngsters with similar interests and ideas focused on nature. During the first meetings, they introduced each other and their life and nature, such as the natural landscape and biodiversity, among other topics related to history, culture, education, climate or environmental problems. These topics will be addressed in future meetings, which are already planned for the coming weeks.

Teens will be encouraged to care for the natural eco-system around us, a common need shared regardless of their countries, age or background. With a global vision for a better future the goal of this cooperation is an exchange to better understand the nature of the planet, the impact of humans and to discuss new solutions.

"It is a fascinating experience to be able to talk with someone from Germany. Although the language is an obstacle, we use a translator and communicate through English. Also, we are learning German and they are learning Spanish. They told us that they like to ski and skate on the snow in winter and we show them that in a few minutes we can walk to the beach," said Hally Angulo, 17, Shark-Ambassador of the ECO Program.

“The protection of environment and animals is a global task. Even if one can achieve a lot locally, it is very interesting and inspiring to think outside the box. Therefore, I was immediately interested in the exchange program. The social component is also very nice, e.g. to experience how young people live about 10,000 km away from us and what they are like - not so different from us, by the way. A funny thing is that it is normal for my "exchange partner" in Ecuador to have penguins and sea lions in front of his door, whereas he is fascinated by snow and trains. I hope to be able to deepen this exchange on site (here or there) and to be able to work together on concrete projects.“ said Elisabeth Albrecht, 16, Young Scientist of MaxCine

Mediante Zoom, los jóvenes de ambos club mantienen conversaciones permanentes para conocerse entre sí.
Through Zoom, the young people of both clubs have permanent conversations to get to know each other.

María José Barragán P. acting CEO and Science Director of the CDF stated that "this is only the first step in motivating this mutual knowledge. We are very excited that this program will succeed and be maintained and that in the future new possibilities for collaboration and interaction can be opened up in various aspects, between the two organizations. The idea that, in the not-too-distant future, there will be the possibility that these young teens might be able to meet in the future, is not ruled out."

Martin Wikelski, Director of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior: “Kids usually have the clearest ideas when it comes to the big questions in life. Many institutions gather wise old men on their advisory boards. We also want to have children on our advisory board, who point us again and again to the essential issues and are not satisfied with our evasive answers. I strongly believe that society and also science can benefit from long-term exchange between international youngsters.”

Juan Sebastián Torres, Environmental Educator and leader of the CDF ‘ECO Program’ said "This process began in early October, so far good outcomes have been noticed as the link that is being established between the participants of both countries. I hope to solidify this relationship and it is intended that students will begin to share and reflect together on topics related to the impact of human activities on the environment and to deepen cultural and historical aspects of both territories."

Babette Eid, head of the MaxCine outreach program: “It is important to illuminate different perspectives, scientific, evolutionary, philosophical, cultural, ethical to promote creative free thinkers, strengthen genius ideas. Today’s youngsters are the researchers of our tomorrow.
In this spirit we are happy to have launched this promising international cooperation. I wish this process of exchange and interaction between youth from countries from two different continents, Galapagos and Germany, will give them the opportunity to interact for a long-term period. Experiencing and learning from nature, getting to understand different environments, animals and plants, observing intuitively could be the beginning for some professional or personal lifetime connections to generate visions for the future of our planet. “

About CDF's Education and Community Program (ECO Program)

The production of information and the creation and sharing of scientific knowledge is fundamental to the mission and values of the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and it´s Research Station. We aim to conserve the environment and biodiversity in the Galapagos Archipelago by providing knowledge and assistance through scientific research and complimentary actions. We provide scientific knowledge in order to better understand the socio-eco system of Galapagos. This, with the purpose of supporting decision, policy making and management actions that contribute to the long-term conservation of the natural capital and the wellbeing of the human population residing in the Galapagos Islands.

The Education and Community Outreach Program (ECO Program) of CDF aims to generate a greater connection between the community and the island's socio-ecosystems through processes within the fields of formal and non-formal education. It seeks to generate greater knowledge and sensitivity within the community in order to promote the conservation of ecosystems and the sustainability of the Galapagos Islands.

Within the formal education process, the ECO program is implementing the Student Participation Program (PPE) with three schools of the province while in non-formal education it works with the science club "Shark-Ambassadors" made up of young volunteers from the locality and who are part of a program that in addition to performing activities on science, conservation and environmental education seeks to develop their leadership skills and critical thinking.

Los Tibu-Embajadores también mantienen sesiones constantes con los científicos de la FCD para conocer más sobre Galápagos

About MaxCine at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior

The Max Planck Society is Germany‘s most successful research organization – since its foundation in 1948, it has had 20 Nobel Prize winners. Most of the cur¬rent 86 Max Planck Institutes and facilities are located in Germany and conduct basic research in the humanities, natural, and social sciences for the benefit of the general public.

The research goal at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in southern Germany is to understand the pulse of the planet through the eyes and ears of animals. Therefore, it carries out various research projects covering aspects such as the ecology of animal societies, migration, cognitive/cultural studies of animals and collective behavior.
With MaxCine, the center for communication and outreach at the institute, the public and especially young people are integrated in daily science. MaxCine organizes a great variety of programs for children, students, teachers and the general public. Everyone is welcome to be a fellow critical thinker and equal partner in dialogue.

Grupo de jóvenes del Instituto Max Planck de Alemania.
Youth group of the Max Planck Institute in Germany.


Leslie León

Communications Officer

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Andres Cruz

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