Let’s Take a Sustainability Walk: DMC Students Lead Nature and Sustainability Tours at Gardens by the Bay

DMC Year 2 students and Republic Polytechnic’s lecturers learnt about the Gardens’ sustainability journey and how they can play a part in protecting the earth on a guided walking tour at Gardens by the Bay on 27 July 2023. (PHOTO: Jenn Lee Qing En )

Some 60 students from Republic Polytechnic’s Diploma in Mass Communication (DMC) learnt about nature and sustainability in two walking tours led by their peers as part of a service-learning project in collaboration with Gardens by the Bay.

DMC Year 2 students and Republic Polytechnic’s lecturers learnt about the Gardens’ sustainability journey and how they can play a part in protecting the earth on a guided walking tour at Gardens by the Bay on 27 July 2023. (PHOTO: Jenn Lee Qing En )

Did you know that biomass energy is a clean energy source used to power up the Supertrees for the Garden Rhapsody every night? Or that there are some unique flora and fauna in the Gardens that are super carbon absorbers? 

These are some of the fun facts that participants at the Let’s Take a Sustainability Walk service-learning project discovered. Organised by Write Interest Group (IG) in collaboration with Gardens by the Bay, the half-day event took place on 27 July 2023, in conjunction with the SG Go Green campaign. 

Some 20 Diploma in Mass Communication (DMC) students signed up for this project in April. To prepare for the cohort learning journey, these students went for the guided tours organised by Gardens by the Bay on two weekends to get an idea of how to conduct the tours for their peers. After some discussion, the Project Team chose to bring the cohort out on the Seeds and Senses (Smell) Tour and Carbon and Climate Tour. 

Seeds and Senses (Smell) Tour 

The 45-minute tour took students to various parts of the Gardens by the Bay, unveiling a rich tapestry of aromatic flora and fauna.

Using a kit specially curated with leaves, flowers and essential oils, the Seeds and Senses tour aimed to allow students to discover how plants use their “sense of smell” to thrive in nature. (PHOTO: Hema Ramesh)

The tour featured a series of hands-on activities where students had the opportunity to seek out leaves or flowers and smell their fragrances. One such activity that piqued the students’ interest was learning about the Lantana Camara, also known as the “Chicken Poo Flower” in Malay. 

This peculiar moniker owes itself to the scent of the flower being commonly associated with chicken manure. Upon learning this fact, many of the students started making jokes among themselves, which immediately brought a wave of laughter among the students. 

“When you think of the term ‘flower’, you would think of a fragrant smell like lemons, but when I heard ‘Chicken Poo’, I started laughing! It was definitely a very unique experience learning about such hilarious facts,” said DMC second-year student Gabriel Michael Wong Zhi Wei.

DMC students found the kit filled with a variety of samples very useful and informative. They felt the hands-on experience enabled them to learn much better, making the experience an enriching one. (PHOTO: Subha Lakshmi D/O  Nilavazhagan) 

Carbon and Climate Tour 

The Carbon and Climate tour was thoughtfully curated to educate participants on carbon, its effect on climate change, and how Gardens by the Bay is pulling its weight to combat climate change. To provide students a good grasp of how exactly carbon affects climate change, the tour guides brought them to their first stop: a Supertree, adorned with stickers and diagrams that vividly showcased the Carbon Cycle. 

Student tour guides Siti Nursakinah Binte Abdul Malik (left) and Haziqah Shariman managed to keep the energy high throughout the tour in spite of the sweltering heat. (PHOTO: Hema Ramesh) 

The students checked out the Biomass Plant at the Ecowise viewing gallery. The Biomass Plant collects anywhere from 60 to 70 tonnes of horticultural and wood waste from across the island and burnt in the biomass boiler. For many of the students, it was their first time seeing such a massive plant. It was an excellent showcase of sustainable energy, waste and resource management where biomass waste is converted to useful forms of energy.

The highlight of the day was a visit to the Flower Dome, which was the last station for both tours. Just as everyone was grateful for the cool air inside the Flower Dome, the tour guides informed the students that the cool air was not due to any sort of air-conditioning, but rather from chilled pipes. These pipes run throughout the dome, and they use the principle of which hot air rises and cold air sinks. The hot air is then removed through natural ventilation from the top of the building. 

A Fruitful Experience

These tours allowed students to not only learn about the sustainable practices that Gardens by the Bay engages in but also provided valuable lessons as to how they can embrace these practices themselves. Furthermore, the concept of the student-led tours imparted the importance of peer-driven education, as well as essential values such as leadership.

“It was nerve-wracking at first,” said DMC third-year student Sa Shruthi. “It was outside my experience as a student. However, I think with the help of my peers and teachers, I got the hang of it. Even though I did get lost on the actual day while guiding the students, I managed to bounce back and it was a fulfilling experience!”