Two faculty, five students, and our educational specialist participated in the 15th Annual International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Bremen, Germany under a supplemental ATE-I grant from July 1-14, 2022. Our group included the Palau Community College (PCC), Northern Marianas College (NMC) and University of Hawaii at Mānoa (UH) regions. They presented on the program outcomes of the NSF ATE grant project and participated in meetings with high-ranking officials, faculty and graduate students from the University of Bremen to discuss coral reef conservation, management and climate change mitigation strategies. Students enjoyed learning about the rich German history of where they stayed. They also gained cross-cultural learning experiences where they participated in discussions with other students and researchers who shared the same passion for protecting coral reefs. Unfortunately, plans for the latter part of the trip were modified due to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Our group took advantage of their proximity to world heritage sites as well as three world renown museums: Klimahaus Bremerhaven, Übersee-Muse-um, and Universem Bremen. One of the big takeaways from their visit was that they learned how climate change differently impacts other environments, people, and cultures around the world.
On Monday, our group took a 1-hour train ride and visited the Klimahaus Bremerhaven museum which provided a hands-on experience along 8-degree longitude, differing in climate change impacts. Our group walked through 5 continents and 19 countries. Each tangible experience showcased a particular climate-related theme including ice-caves, hot, dry deserts, and wildlife in the dark forests of the Amazon. The group heard stories from various populations that lived along the 8-degree longitudinal line of how climate change had affected their way of life. The exhibit concluded with 8 interactive educational modules testing one’s understanding for carrying out more sustainable life choices.
Via a short tram ride, on Tuesday, our group visited the three-story Übersee-Museum in Bremen which combined ethnography with natural history encompassing numerous countries around the world. Adjacent to the lobby of the museum was a special coral reef exhibit sponsored by the ICRS conference. The area included different artifacts from many different Pacific Island regions, predominantly Hawaii and Samoa. The students were a little disappointed with the lack of representations from their islands, specifically one artifact from Palau and none from Saipan. Encompassing a large section on the third floor was a section on human rights. The Übersee-Museum had been nominated many times for the European Museum Award as well as honored by the German UNESCO-Commission as a project of the UN-Decade of “Education for Sustainable Development”.
Another short tram ride on Wednesday allowed our group to visit the whale-shaped Universem Bremen museum which included three themes (technology, human body, and nature) with 300 interactive exhibits. The museum included an outdoor area combining play and physics. For example, participants could select one of three vertical chains to pull down and lift a small car. The lesson demonstrated the importance of understanding simple tools and the application of physics. Inside in the nature-themed floor, participants could sit on a couch and experience differing earthquake magnitudes in the earthquake simulator. Other fun exhibits included rooms to demonstrate light refraction, sound and shapes, and how the mind processes linearity.