Saturday, March 15, 2008

RICE 2008, 10 & 11 March (part 3)

[From Part 2]

There were a few exhibition booths at the conference venue. This one from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity and Research (they're based at the NUS campus) got my attention.
Raffles International Conference on Education (RICE) 2008

The four young people in the photo were NUS students (the Toddycats Public Exhibitions team, to be precise), who volunteered to man the booth. Incidentally, "Toddycat" is another term for the Common Palm Civet (here's a live wild specimen at Pulau Ubin).

The chap on the extreme left, Alvin Justin, gave me a quick tour of their exhibits.

Raffles International Conference on Education (RICE) 2008

You couldn't fail to miss this, a Manatee Dugong foetus (about 20 years old, if I remember correctly 100 years old!)
Raffles International Conference on Education (RICE) 2008

Alvin Justin enthusiastically shared how manatees Dugongs were the likely source of the Mermaid legend. I remember him saying: "When you have men out at sea for extended periods, and then when they see something that has a human form..." :)

There was a pangolin specimen. Alvin Justin explained how most people were surprised at the natural gloss of the scales.
Raffles International Conference on Education (RICE) 2008 Raffles International Conference on Education (RICE) 2008

Alvin Justin asked if I knew what this was. I said "Horseshoe Crab" and added that it was considered a living fossil (Nature documentaries were one of my favourite shows when younger).
Raffles International Conference on Education (RICE) 2008

"Ah, but do you know how it looks like underneath?" asked the young Toddycat guide.

He flipped it over and yeah, I was surprised to see how skinny it was.
Raffles International Conference on Education (RICE) 2008

He went on: "Most people may know that it's a living fossil, but few are aware that it's related more to spiders than crabs".


I learned something new.

And I became acutely aware of the relevance of the educator, standing in front of the student.

There are plenty of information sources out there. The fact that a Horseshoe Crab is more closely related to spiders than crabs is something mentioned in the first paragraph of this Wikipedia entry. One simply had to point the student to a few of such information links if all that's needed was to let them learn facts.

Ah, but when a teacher weaves a story into the lesson. Or displays enthusiasm and passion (as Alvin Justin did).

That makes a world of difference.

[Next: Part 4]


  1. Nice, thanks!

    Think you mean Justin on the extreme right?

  2. Oh yes, my mistake. Corrected!

  3. Anonymous11:52 pm

    Sorry to correct you but it is not manatee. It is a Dugong. Different animal altogether. Me a toddycat too!

  4. Can change manatee to dugong. That's the regional species. The manateee from the America/West Africa.

    That specimen in the picture is from Singapore waters, from at least a century ago.

  5. OK, more corrections done. Yeah, JUSTIN (not Alvin, sorry dude) was telling me it's a Dugong. I got it mixed up.


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