Al Houbara

Al Houbara

SCIENCE CURRICULUM

ADEC recently chose the indigenous Houbara bird as an evocative theme around the concept of national heritage for students to learn about the Houbara and efforts to rescue it from possible extinction.
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Grade 4 Boys Umair Ibn Youssef School: Present to their peers: The teacher stood back while the boys presented to another Grade 4 class: The class was so intrigued it took 45 minutes.
 

The late Sheikh Zayed first noticed the decline of the Houbara while falconing over 20 years ago. He then went on to establish the NARC centre 18 years ago. Sheikh Zayed won world recognition for his environmental work posthumously in 2005 (presented to Sheikh Khalifa).

The Houbara is widely prized as a quarry for falconers, and stands as a symbol for the UAE’s authentic identity and values. Falconry is an art that belongs to our community, and represents our ancestors' experience. As a nation, we’re not only proud of falconry, but also of the environment it represents. For example, our Royal Family supports the International Fund for Houbara Conservation, an international initiative to rescue this endangered, migratory bird.

The Houbara is widely prized as a quarry for falconers, and stands as a symbol for the UAE’s authentic identity and values.

The science curriculum in all cycles encourages the use of the student centered guided Inquiry process to cover the established learning outcomes. Students work learning teams of 3 members to gather the knowledge and information required to best answer the Big Question, in this case ‘Why should we save the Houbara from extinction?’ The students use the visit to the NARC center as part of their gathering of knowledge.

Following the visit the teams work to make a presentation to a selected audience. They have a wide range of presentation tools such as PowerPoint, Videos, short plays, posters, brochures, websites and other suitable tools.

In 2011, the Houbara inquiry was piloted in cycle 1 and cycle 2 schools Umair Ibn Youssef School (4thgrade) and Al Thuraya School (9thgrade). The intention is to expand this into 12 more schools, grade 5 and grade 9 in all three regions.

The inquiry is being enabled through co-operation with the National Avian Research Center at Sweihan, an arm of International Fund for Houbara Conservation. Students visit the Center as part of their learning, alongside talks that focus on scientific concepts that they can then put into their study. The talks also highlight UAE efforts to conserve the Houbara through programs adopted by the Fund, most notably breeding in captivity, plus a protection survey and launching program to increase numbers in the wild both in the UAE and migratory paths in wider Asia including Pakistan. Individual birds are tracked by NARC staff GPS trackers.

Students who have been part of the program to date have been extremely enthusiastic. They particularly enjoyed researching information on the bird (features, food, environment and threats to its survival) as well as suggesting ways to protect it. Following talks and field visits, students in their teams, share roles and tasks such as making presentations to classmates, creating academic posters for the school journal on the topic, enacting a short play on the aims of the Houbara project, plus preparing and showing a short movie. The inquiry process in a relevant exciting context with a searching questions helps ensure the students’ develop the key skills of the 1stcentury learner: Creativity and innovation, Communication, Collaboration and Critical thinking.

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They particularly enjoyed researching information on the bird (features, food, environment and threats to its survival) as well as suggesting ways to protect it.
Grade 4 Boys Umair Ibn Youssef School: Visit NARC

Note:

The UAE is the first Arab country to breed falcons for falconry purposes, by applying a tight licensing system on using wild birds that prevents unlawful hunting and saves them from extinction, and issuing a falcon passport approved by the International Convention on Endangered Species.

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