18 February 2019
Turtle Cove Beach is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Photo: LCSD
Turtle Cove Beach is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Photo: LCSD

Field trip sparks controversy over biology class practice

One bright, sunny day, two biology teachers, along with a laboratory technician, took their 44 students to Turtle Cove Beach in Hong Kong’s Stanley district to experience the wonders of nature and learn about science first hand.

While on the field trip, they collected samples of organisms such as fish and snails which they preserved in bottles filled with alcohol and took the specimens with them for further study in the classroom. Needless to say, they killed the organisms in the process.

What was an ordinary field trip for a science class has raised an issue that has pitted the teachers and the school against education officials and environmental protection advocates.

The education bureau now wants to put a stop to the practice, saying the biology curriculum does not require students to collect samples. But the teachers, supported by their principal at Lung Kong WFSL Lau Wong Fat Secondary School, insist that they have done nothing wrong and complied with the bureau’s guidance, Apple Daily reported Wednesday.

The school’s vice-principal, Mung Siu-lun, says the class only took a few samples such as small fishes, shrimps, crabs, snails and mussels, and none of the rare species if there were any at all on the beach. The students will use them for dissection and other educational purposes.

Mung also notes the education bureau has not provided any guidance on the quantity of samples that a science class could take during such field trips, except to say that students should not take too many.

Many environmentalists agree there is no need to take living samples in order to study biology, or dissect the species in science laboratories. Students can just take pictures of the fish and snails.

“If every school does the same thing during field trips, what will become of our environment?” says Green Sense president Roy Tam.

Samantha Lee, a conservation officer at World Wide Fund for Nature, says taking one sample of each organism is enough for the purpose of a science class, the report said.

– Contact HKEJ at [email protected]




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