A group of 27 biology teachers from Church schools recently attended a week-long course in field biology jointly organised by the University’s Department of Biology and the Curia’s Secretariat for Education at the University.
The course was aimed at updating educators on methodology related to fieldwork organisation.
It is widely recognised that the teaching of biology is most enriching and interesting for students when the learning process takes place ‘outside the classroom’ and in a ‘real world’ setting.
The course consisted of lectures, fieldwork and laboratory sessions, with a focus on the Maltese environment. During the week, participants had the opportunity to put theoretical knowledge into practice through planning and preparation for fieldwork, surveying, sampling and data collection, and processing of the data collected.
Topics covered during the course were related to shore and terrestrial ecology.
During the shore ecology fieldwork, held on the Għallis coast, participants identified flora and fauna that inhabit rocky shores, and collected data on the abundance of selected fauna. During the terrestrial ecology fieldwork, held at Clapham Junction and Buskett, participants observed typical Mediterranean vegetation communities: garigue, steppe, maquis, and woodland.
The knowledge and applications learnt during the marine and terrestrial fieldwork sessions was synthesised during a site visit to Għajn Tuffieħa.
A variety of habitats was explored there, ranging from banquettes of Posidonia oceanica wrack deposited on the sandy beach, to the terrestrial boulder scree that constitutes the typical Maltese rdum habitat.
The lectures, field and laboratory sessions were led by Joseph Borg, Patrick Schembri and Sandro Lanfranco from the University’s Biology Department.
Originally published in The Sunday Times, 9.X.2011.