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Committed to fight the adverse effects of global warming through education, the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) and the Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI) Foundation engaged 40 students and 20 teachers from 20 public high schools situated in high-risk regions in the country in a hardcore yet fun-filled Innovation and Climate Science Camp on 1-8 April 2014 in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. 

Dubbed as the Hyundai New Thinkers Camp, the activity was packed with exciting lectures, hands-on exercises, and exposure trips in the fields of hydrogeology and oceanography—two of the most critical areas being promoted by DOST due to its narrow human resources in the country—as facilitated by scientists from the University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) and Marine Science Institute (MSI). The Camp sought to encourage students to pursue S&T degrees and careers and instill deep appreciation of S&T as a way to address environmental and societal issues. 

The Camp is the third phase of the Hyundai New Thinkers Circuit (HNTC) Program that aims to hone students to become future world-class leaders and climate scientists. The first part was the HNT Summit held in October last year where students interacted with scientists, innovators, and industry experts to come up with their own climate science or community development projects. It was followed by the Bayanihan Project phase where teams implemented their proposed projects using the ?10,000 funding given by HARI. 

The hydrogeology sub-camp kick-started the week with interactive lectures and activities that introduced geological concepts and their importance in studying climate change. Dr. Carlos Primo David, camp director for hydrogeology and an Assistant Professor at UP NIGS, discussed about the impacts brought by extreme climate events to the national economy and provided analysis as to how an improved and proactive spending for mitigation and adaptation will prevent the government from allotting a huge chunk of its gross domestic product for recovery operations. He encouraged the Campers to use their Bayanihan Projects as their contribution in minimizing destruction caused by monsoons and typhoons. 

Scientists from NIGS facilitated the rest of activities most especially the exposure trips to Aninuan River, Tabinay River and Beach, and Talipanan Falls. The Campers got a dose of real-life climate science activities in topics such as River Profiling; Discharge and Cross Sections; Water Quality (Spring); Hjulstrom Method and Sediments; Float Geology; Parts of a River (erosion, deposition); Pace Factor; Soil Erosion and Water Filtration; Compass and Global Positioning System (GPS) Reading; Beach Profiling; and Hazard Assessment (Coastal Erosion and Sea Level Rise). 

The Marine Science sub-camp maintained the momentum by presenting the vital relationship of between the Oceans and Climate. Dr. Aletta Yñiguez’ lecture centered in the El Niño and La Niña phenomena, coastal erosion, and the massive effect of climate change to the world’s oceans while the rest of the MSI team taught the Campers the processes of Plankton and Water Quality Sampling, reasons for the souring of oceans, and basics of snorkelling. They capped of the lectures with exposure trips to the seagrass community, mangrove forest, and coastal reef. 

HARI Foundation President Maria Fe Perez-Agudo congratulated the Campers for exhibiting enthusiasm in learning the scientific concepts and completing all the field tasks. She also thanked UP NIGS and UP MSI for effectively mentoring and inspiring the participants to be hooked in geology and marine science. 

“Watching your presentations made me see how much you have learned and had fun in eight days of studying in the rivers, mountains and the sea with these young scientists. I can already say that you are all indeed Hyundai New Thinkers,” said Perez-Agudo during the Camp’s closing. 

“Remember, that the way to learn is to engage in actual [scientific] processes and to embrace the community. Through this camp, I believe we have done that fully,” she added. 

Likewise, DOST Undersecretary and SEI Officer-in-Charge Fortunato de la Peña lauded the participants’ willingness to be part of the comprehensively designed Program which will also award science scholarships to the most promising students courtesy of HARI Foundation. 

“The challenge does not begin and end with attending the Science Camp. Rather, this is a step that emanates from your efforts to complete a whole cycle of being inspired, acquiring the knowledge and skills, and committing to a future where you become a stakeholder as future climate scientists,” said de la Peña in his welcome. “You can be the future scholars of HARI or DOST if you set your eyes in being part of the solution to enable us to adapt to an ever-changing climate and a rapidly evolving human civilization.” 

The scholars will be determined after the final phase of HNTC, the Hyundai New Thinkers Spotlight, which will take place on May 2014. The students will be evaluated based on their community development projects and performance in the Camp. (30)