Country Specific Benefits

Country Specific Benefits

Educational systems across the world have many shared features although content is often specific a particular country or system.  This section highlights content common to many countries but also attempts to pick out specific benefits for different areas of the world.

Features

  • Access to ‘cutting edge’ conservation research.
  • A unique opportunity to witness and be involved in 'Science in Action’.
  • The opportunity to investigate your own research question.
  • Develop your own personal and interpersonal skills.
  • Free Classroom Exercises

    Operation Wallacea has been running research expeditions since 1995 and started taking high school/sixth form students in 2004. With the help of funding from the Weston Foundation we have created a new science resource known as The Wallace Resource Library or WRL .

    This resource provides novel data sets for the classroom and uniquely, these data sets have all been processed and produced by the actual scientists involved in the research. These data sets all originate directly from Operation Wallacea research sites around the world and there is now a full set containing 19 WRL datasets and 45 Biodiversity Data Tasks. The WRL datasets are extensive and complex tasks and the Biodiversity Data Tasks are much shorter, adopting the style of examination questions worth 10+ marks or short 40 minute homework tasks. These are standalone, and where possible, have explanatory notes to help with the answers.

  • Access to research data

    One of the commonest requirements for many educational systems is for students to be able to witness and have access to up-to-date research material. This is easily achieved by having access to the Wallace Research Library, the Opwall Research Library and the chance to witness and be involved in research projects first-hand whilst on their expedition.

  • Opportunity to carry out Independent Research Projects (IRPs)

    Many educational systems encourage students to carry out their own independent research which often involves producing a written report on a specific research question.  To find out more, go the section on IRPs although mores specific qualifications such as EPQs and EEs are covered in the following country specific sections.

  • Personal and Interpersonal Development

    Many countries require their students to acquire experience in vocational aspects of their education such as Active Citizenship, Enrichment Activities, Career Planning and Global Awareness. A number of schools involved in Opwall Expeditions have successfully used their expedition experience to help in this area such as the UK ASDAN Universities Award and the CAS (Creativity, activity, Service) requirement for the IB Diploma course.  To find out more go the section on Personal and Interpersonal Development opportunities

Asia

Course work essays and field investigations

The majority of Senior Science courses, especially Biology, require students to investigate a research topic (group or individual) and submit a report for assessment e.g. Extended Response Tasks, Extended Essays, Field Reports etc. Many of these could be based around the research being carried out in the field and in which they will become involved.

As an example, for those schools in China that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB), the Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Action and Service components objectives (CAS) are key aspects of this award. Experience with other schools has shown that a student can contribute confidently towards these important components whilst taking part in an expedition, please follow the links to EE and CAS for more detail on how both of these might work.

Whilst we cannot usually support independent research projects (IRP) involving primary data collection by students, we can provide past data sets and, in most cases, ensure that a student will be involved in relevant data collection but observing existing strict scientific protocols, here is an example of an independent research project, in this case an IB Extended Essay to provide an idea of how this would work.

Other examples are the practical scheme of work (PSOW), which is the practical course planned by the science teacher and acts as a summary of all the investigations carried out by the candidate. Students whilst on expedition will take part in practical work and these could contribute significantly towards their IB Internal Assessment for IB Biology. There is also the opportunity to incorporate the independent assessment during the expedition as well. The appropriate expedition booklet outlines the practicals they they will be involved with and could consider as part of these aspects of their course.

For more information on any of the above points please contact schoolresearchprojects@opwall.com or Pippa in the Asia office at asia@opwall.com.

Australia

Course work essays and field investigations

The majority of Senior Science courses, especially Biology, require students to investigate a research topic (group or individual) and submit a report for assessment e.g. Extended Response Tasks, Extended Essays, Field Reports etc. Many of these could be based around the research being carried out in the field and in which they will become involved.

For more information please contact schoolresearchprojects@opwall.com or the Australian office at australia@opwall.com.

Whilst we cannot usually support independent research projects (IRP) involving primary data collection by students, we can provide past data sets and, in most cases, ensure that a student will be involved in relevant data collection but observing existing strict scientific protocols.

Personal and Interpersonal Development.

There is an opportunity to contribute towards schemes such as the Vocational Education and Training (VET). To find out more go to the section on P&I Development.

Canada

Additional research related qualifications

Many schools in Canada offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) and within this award are the Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Action and Service components (CAS).  Experience with other schools has shown that a student can contribute confidently towards  these important components whilst taking part in an expedition.

Follow the links to EE and CAS for more detail on how it might work.

The practical scheme of work (PSOW) is the practical course planned by the science teacher and acts as a summary of all the investigations carried out by the candidate.  Students whilst on expedition will take part in practical work and these could contribute significantly towards their IB Internal Assessment for IB Biology.  The appropriate expedition booklet outlines the practicals they they will be involved with.

International Schools

Many International schools offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) and within this award are the Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Action and Service components (CAS).  Experience with other schools has shown that a student can contribute confidently towards  these important components whilst taking part in an expedition.

Follow the links to EE and CAS for more detail on how it might work.

The practical scheme of work (PSOW) is the practical course planned by the science teacher and acts as a summary of all the investigations carried out by the candidate.  Students whilst on expedition will take part in practical work and these could contribute significantly towards their IB Internal Assessment for IB Biology.  The appropriate expedition booklet outlines the practicals they they will be involved with.

Republic of Ireland

Enhanced understanding of the syllabus and opportunities in the Transition Year experience

Biology is one of the most popular Science Leaving Certificate subject and studied by over 50% of Senior Cycle (Timthriall Sinsearach) candidates. Geography is also very popular and a significant amount of what is being learnt for both subjects can be experienced first-hand whilst on an expedition and the Opwall office can show you which topics are covered in an OpWall expedition. Students will experience these topics when they become involved in collecting data, observing scientists at work and following a series of activity lectures and an appropriate course specific to each country.

Opportunities in the Transition (Idirbhliain) Year

Most schools in the Republic of Ireland follow a ‘transition’ year and the main objective is – ‘to promote the personal, social, educational and vocational development of pupils and to prepare them for their role as autonomous, participative and responsible members of society’. Participating in an Opwall expedition would provide a wonderful opportunity to fulfill many of these objectives. The experience can also be combined with learning fundraising techniques, team building, long term planning, extended writing projects and contributing personally towards international conservation management.

Opwall staff would be pleased to discuss how you could integrate an expedition into your transition year.

University applications and interviews

One of the best uses of the expeditions is to enhance your application for university entry. In Ireland every potential university student has to complete their CAO entry form and within this ‘explain the relevance of their life/educational experience to their application and state their educational goals and objectives’ and this is quite often followed up by a university entrance interview. Many students will be able to relate their experiences gained on their expedition and this will be something that makes them stand out from other similarly qualified students.

South Africa

Enhanced understanding of the syllabus

The majority of Independent Institutions follow the NSC (National Senior Certificate) as part of their further education years although a number also take the International Baccalaureate and Cambridge examinations (A-levels) from the United Kingdom. Life Science (N12LISC) is required for entry to a University Science based degree and taken by many students: a significant amount of what is being learnt can be experienced first-hand whilst on an expedition and the Opwall office can show you which topics are covered in an OpWall expedition. Students will experience these topics when they become involved in collecting data, observing scientists at work and following a series of activity lectures and an appropriate course specific to each country.

As part of the Life Science course students are required to undertake a Research task and the Research task for NSC (National Senior Certificate) – non-investigative Practical would be appropriate.

The following (edited for conciseness) is taken from NSC handbook (Jan 2011):

Research task/ Non-investigative Practical (20 marks out of 100)
‘This component of the portfolio is designed to replace the Investigation from the previous portfolio requirements. Many teachers struggled with this component previously as the requirements were particularly narrow and prescriptive. This item is now a similar task to the Research Project used in History and Geography. The emphasis must be on giving the candidates an opportunity to get involved in research of some kind and then to write a comprehensive report on their research findings. This task may involve a number of different research methodologies. It may simply involve Library (books) and Internet based literature review in order to solve a problem/ research question set by the teacher or it may involve an initial library/ internet based review followed by an actual data collection (investigation) which is performed at home, in the school laboratory or in the field. The final outcome of this activity is a written report detailing the results of the research findings. It is assessed using memoranda, checklists or rubrics or a combination of the three. The research should relate to a question, problem or case study/ scenario.’

United States

Additional research related qualifications

University course credit

Students participating in Operation Wallacea expeditions can earn university course credit from University of West Florida. The course credit is based on exam results, a field diary, a research project essay, and an assessment of student performance in the field. Whilst the UWF course credits are only accepted toward Marine Biology or Biology degrees at UWF, you can submit a summary of the course completed and your completion certificate with grade (which will be provided by the university) when applying for relevant degrees at other US universities and they may or may not count it as relevant credit towards your degree.  The cost of the 3 credit course is $600 for both in-state and out of state applicants and the course credit is completed from the field experience plus an essay that is submitted after returning from the field. Please note that we cannot currently offer this at our Mexican, Cuban or Honduran sites. You can find more information here.

 

An alternative credit option that can work for ALL Opwall expedition locations is to register for and complete a 3 credit online/field course called Field Biology (BIOL 12) offered by Shasta College in Redding, California. This course involves some pre and post expedition web-presented (online) course work that includes readings, assignments, quizzes, keeping and submitting a field journal, and submitting a final presentation, as well as an assessment of student performance in the field. BIOL 12 is fully transferable in the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems and may be transferable to universities in many other states as well (check with your institution). For ALL high school students, whether California residents or not, these 3 transferable credits cost only $31.50 for college fees, since tuition is waived for high school students! College/university students who are California residents can register for the course for just around $170. Out of state college/university students would have to pay approximately $850 for the 3 transferable credits. The advantages of signing up for this course are that you are much better prepared for the research projects you will be involved with and, of course, you will be earning transferable course credits for your Opwall experience at a much lower cost than at most universities. For more information and to register for BIOL 12, please send an email to sfulton@shastacollege.edu stating where you are from, whether you are a high school student or a college/university student and which Opwall expedition you will be a part of, including the expedition dates.

National Honor Society

All schools are strongly encouraged to fundraise for their expeditions and each school group must have a fundraising Chairperson. This role provides an opportunity for the elected student to gain leadership experience to be used in their National Honor Society application.

Science Research in the High School – SRHS

In the northeast of the US, a significant number of schools are associated with the Science Research in the High School program (SRHS). This is an advanced research program for school students who are expected to publish the results of their field research in a peer reviewed journal before entering university. In addition, students are expected to give presentations at high school science seminars. The whole emphasis is on developing research skills in students with them completing a research placement at the end of their sophomore year in a lab or at a field research station to gain initial research experience. During their junior year, the students are then expected to choose a research topic, complete background reading and, in consultation with academics, develop a research proposal with a clearly defined question. This independent research project is then implemented over the summer before entering their senior year. During their senior year, the students write up the research and submit the manuscript for publication as well as making a presentation at a high school science seminar. This scheme fits perfectly with the Opwall field programs with the standard General Surveyor expeditions fitting the research experience requirement at the end of their sophomore year. The published research project in their Junior and Senior years fits much better with the Dissertation/Senior Thesis approach, so these students sign up alongside the university students and go through the research planning and implementation phase with academic mentors.

University applications and interviews

In the US, the college entry essay and college interviews are the main opportunities for students to express themselves beyond their high school transcript, test scores, and extracurricular activities. You may choose to reference your time on expedition to demonstrate your independence and global efficacy, while the unique opportunity to meet academics from universities around the world will also set you apart from other applicants.

United Kingdom

Enhanced understanding of syllabus

Many students going on an Operation Wallacea expedition are likely to be studying Biology or Geography at A level or the equivalent. A significant amount of what is being learnt at A level can be experienced first-hand whilst on an expedition and the Opwall office can show you which topics in each of the main examining boards for England and Wales (AQA, EdExcel Salters, OCR, WJEC), Northern Ireland (CCEA) and Scottish Highers (SQA) for Biology and Geography are covered in an Opwall expedition. Students will experience these topics when they become involved in collecting data, observing scientists at work and following a series of ‘activity’ lectures and an appropriate ecological course specific to each country.

One section of many courses requires the student to experience field sampling techniques such as those using transecting methods and quadrats. All of the research sites employ such methods and it is an ideal opportunity to experience these methods first-hand and really appreciate the importance of gathering such important data: it is genuinely an example of ‘How Science Works’.

Experience has shown that those studying other subjects also benefit greatly from the experience and you do not necessarily have to be a ‘scientist’ to go on an expedition. At many of the sites the students have the chance to practice foreign languages (e.g. Spanish, Portuguese, French).

Research qualifications and additional qualifications

Many schools are now offering their students the chance to submit further research qualifications such as the Extended Essay Qualification (EPQ) which is now available from an increasing number examining boards (AQA, OCR, Pre-U, WJEC etc).  These qualifications are worth up to 70 extra UCAS points and are designed to support students with their transition to higher education or into the world of work.

The are many similarities between the examination boards although and there are many options available to teachers and students but all involve an in-depth study by the student in which they will develop and apply skills creatively and result (for a Science student) in a dissertation or an Investigation.  Student must work independently and largely self-directed although most schools should provide 120 Guided Learning hours (edexcel).  The EPQ is assessed by producing a research report of 5,000 words and/or a presentation.

Going on an Opwall Expedition can be a great place to undertake such a venture although the dissertation style EPQ is better suited than an in depth personal investigation (see more about how this might work in the EPQ section)

An increasing number of schools are adopting the IB (International Baccalaureate) course and within this award are the Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Action and Service components (CAS).  Experience with other schools has shown that a student can contribute confidently towards these important components whilst taking part in an expedition.

Follow the links to EE and CAS for more detail on how it might work.

Also within the IB Award is the practical scheme of work (PSOW) which is the practical course planned by the science teacher and acts as a summary of all the investigations carried out by the candidate.  Students whilst on expedition will take part in practical work and these could contribute significantly towards their IB Internal Assessment for IB Biology.  The appropriate expedition booklet outlines the practicals that they will be involved with.

 

Additional qualifications

There are additional research related qualifications that can be obtained partly or wholly by participating in an Opwall expedition and a few examples are given below. If you would like to do any of these additional qualifications then your school needs to organise a visit by an Opwall representative to go through the requirements of the various schemes before making a final decision.

Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE) – Awarded by ASDAN

The CoPE certificate is awarded by ASDAN and tests 6 skills based on a number of challenges that students will meet whilst preparing for and going on an expedition. It is demanding and requires 150 hours of study and the production of a portfolio which is moderated by Opwall. It costs £85 (non- refundable) and is worth 70 UCAS points (an A grade at AS level). Note students wanting to do CoPE as part of their expedition must apply to Opwall by 20 December in the year preceding their expedition. A student either passes or fails and there are no in-between grades. The scheme is recognized by UCAS and some universities actively encourage the adoption of CoPE. CoPE may be unsuitable if the university you apply to offers grades as opposed to points. It is an important motivator for going on an expedition but does require significant support from the school tutor and Opwall. CoPE is also very useful when applying for a job and is well recognised and respected by employers.

More information can be found on the ASDAN website here.

Universities Award (UA) – Awarded by ASDAN

This uses similar criteria to CoPE but the award is given automatically to any student who completes an expedition. Opwall has a customized agreement with ASDAN that ensures that each student has followed a set of challenges. The award, which costs £25 per student is well recognized by UCAS and allows a student to demonstrate a range of personal skills.

More information can be found on the ASDAN website here.

University applications and interviews

One of the best uses of the expeditions is to enhance a student’s application for university entry. In the UK, every potential university student has to write a UCAS Personal Statement as part of the UCAS process and this is quite often followed up by a university entrance interview. Many students will be able to relate their experiences gained on the field research programme and working alongside academics and this will be something that makes them stand out from other similarly qualified students.

Elise Damstra, who came out with us in 2011 as part of a Sevenoaks school expedition to Madagascar, is a great proof of this. She won the Norwegian Young Scientist essay competition for her extended essay about the work that was done during her time there – the prize included £1000, an all expenses paid trip to Bratislava for the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, and a place at the Stockholm Youth Science Seminar that includes a seat at the Nobel Prize ceremony.

Northern Ireland

The Department of Education in Northern Ireland conduct their own curriculum and examinations – CCEA (Curriculum Examinations and Assessment)and they are the equivalent to A levels in England and Wales.  The content for Biology and Geography match well with many of the experiences gained by going on an expedition and are available on request.

Scotland

The majority of Schools in Scotland will take the Scottish Higher and Advanced Higher examination which are the equivalent to the A levels taken in many parts of the UK.  These specifications have recently undergone a full revision and are now being implemented in Scottish schools. You can see how WRL links to the SQA Highers and Advanced Highers Biology course specification here.

Recent UK Opwall Educational Survey:

The main conclusions from our survey are that Opwall expeditions match really well with the new specifications (certainly better than the old ones) although teaching using ‘case studies’ is a dominant and novel feature of these new revised exams.  The ‘Case Study’ idea is a great opportunity for us especially when introducing the Wallace Resource Library (WRL) to teachers.  One of their case studies looks at the role of PCR and our Chytrid Fungus WRL dataset from Honduras would be perfect as I am certain many others will also be – going on an expedition would be even better!.

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