We recently completed our last visit to a national park accumulating quite a collection. Altogether we saw 12 national parks in the US, 3 national parks in Canada and a few state parks in the US. You may wonder which of those was our favorite. Well, each of us have their prefrences ranging from Zion, Canyonlands to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. The parks of North America are beautiful indeed. On the other hand coming here just for park visits seems pointless. In other parts of the world, Poland included, there are equally beautiful and even wilder places. What we loved in the US parks in particular was the educational program for kids and adults as well called, Junior Ranger Program. Its participants learn, in a very practical way, a lot about the nature and geography of the parks. The program participation is usually free or comes at a symbolic charge depending on the park. A typical JR Program comprises participation in themed activities led by park rangers as well as filling in special booklets distributed by each park. At the end, after meeting a few criteria and taking the Junior Ranger oath, the participants receive a certificate and a special badge (patch).
The kids have collected so many badges and patches they had no place on their clothes to wear all of them. I wish the biology or geography classes at schools were equally engaging and evoking so much learning passion in students, as Junior Ranger Program. I learned quite a few new things myself while actively helping our children with the booklets and activities. Particularly impressive was the presentation I saw at the Point Reyes National Seashore about earthquakes. On a big, globe-shaped screen lit by four corner projectors we could observe different phenomena happening on our planet in real as well as accelerated time. They included current air traffic flow, dispersion of tsunami waves, points of earthquakes along with their magnitude as well as depth or light polution. It was breathtaking! With such educational props I am sure the kids would absorb knowledge at school with a lot of joy.
Refering to my own experience, education, especially higher one, is what the US does best in the world! Keep it up!
*For slide show of the above picutres, refer to the Polish version of this post.