This exploration focused on the components of a marine ecosystem in Cambodia and the human impact affecting Cambodian marine ecosystems. Students were charged with finding problems, motivations and possible solutions connected to the human impact.
The students determined that illegal trawling was damaging vast areas of Cambodian marine ecosystems. The students researched algal farming as an alternative livelihood for illegal trawlers. The students created a one year plan to conduct a feasibility study to understand if algal farming was environmentally possible, economically feasible, and of interest to Cambodian fishermen. The students’ proposal was presented to the Liger administration in the “Proposal for a Feasibility Study of Algal Farming as an Alternative Livelihood for Cambodian Fishermen” report.
The Illustrated Guide To Wildlife of Cambodia
LLA worked in collaboration with “Art in a Box,” which is a New York based 501(c)3 non-profit organization, to create a book on Cambodian Wildlife, depicting some 87 different Cambodian species and 7 ecosystems. The book is believed to be the first of its kind in Cambodia. As well as being distributed to Government schools all around the country, at the behest of the Minister for Education, Youth and Sport, the book is also available at a leading bookstore in Phnom Penh and at the airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
After developing a deep understanding of Cambodian ecosystems and determining a strong need to share this information throughout the country, Liger students embarked on a project to write a comprehensive book about the major wildlife species found in their county. Students worked with a wide variety of experts ranging from a New York artist, who mentored them in creating original watercolors for almost 100 animal species, to scientists worldwide adding expertise about the animals, to mentors working to publish the book in both Khmer (Cambodian language) and English. Students then worked on crowd funding, designing and selling merchandise and other fundraising techniques to print enough books to distribute to government schools throughout Cambodia. Their work has now reached up to one million of their peers around Cambodia.
According to a UNICEF report, it is estimated that six children die from drowning every day in Cambodia. Approximately 90% of all Liger students were non swimmers when they arrived on campus. Therefore with these statistics, it was critical that our students learned to swim and be safe around water. After developing their own swimming skills the LLA students felt it imperative to share this knowledge. They researched, developed and delivered an ad campaign to children in the provinces and also, developed and delivered water safety and swim lessons for young Cambodians from LLA surrounding communities.
The students also advanced their own swimming skills to the point where 6 to 10 students compete in the Mekong River Swim annually. The event is an open water 800m swim in strong currents, drawing participants of all ages from around the world. Some highlights from those swims include being the youngest ever swimmers to compete and placing 3rd in the overall team event.
There is a strong need to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in Cambodia. The World Bank in 2014 shows that less than 10 percent of Cambodian university students studied STEM-related majors.
To assist in moving the youth in Cambodia forward in this area, an annual STEM competition has be held over the past several years starting in 2015 by Kid City, a science museum in Phnom Penh. The goal of the competitions, supported by the Ministry of Education, is to improve STEM education for all students in Cambodia. Students worked in teams of boys and girls from government and international schools throughout Cambodia. The teams worked to solve complex design problems to develop their critical and analytical thinking.
Various teams from Liger have participated in this national competition with teams placing 1st and 3rd. Winning Liger students were also awarded $1500 worth of science books from a prominent local bookstore.
Technovation is a global competition that offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to become tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Girls ages 10 to 18 learn to identify a problem in their community and create a mobile app solution to address that problem, and then learn how to communicate these ideas and translate them into a fully launched business.
In our first year of entering the competition, one Liger team made it to the global semi finals, representing the Asian region. In subsequent years, our teams continued to present strong placement in regional and global semifinals. In 2017, the Cambodia Identity Product team, qualified for and presented at the World Pitch Summit in San Francisco. They were awarded a scholarship which will enable them to advance their STEM skills and knowledge in the future.
Students prepared for and competed in the First Lego League Robotics competition in Singapore. They were the first ever Cambodian team to compete internationally in a robotics competition and they left the competition with the judges “Rising Stars” award.
In subsequent years, Liger students increased in skill and competed in the Vex robotics competition. While the team from Liger was the youngest team, and the first ever representing Cambodia, they came away with the Judges Award.
Hidden Voices: Lost Music in Cambodia
In partnership with Cambodia Sings!, a local NGO, the students of Liger embarked on a journey to document the disappearing voices of Cambodian elders. With a long history of oral tradition and the loss of so many Cambodians during the Khmer Rouge era, students visited, interviewed and recorded village elders’ songs in Kampong Speu and Mondulkiri provinces to help preserve Cambodia’s rich past for future generations. Their final product was featured in a documentary and a podcast.
Gifted in Science Camp in Beijing, China
Three Liger students and a teacher were selected and funded by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to represent Cambodia at the 8th ASEAN +3 Student Camp and Teacher Workshop for the Gifted in Science. The 3-day camp included students from Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Sweden, and the Philippines. Our students learned about a variety of science concepts and individually earned a gold medal and two bronze medals for their design expertise.
At the completion of the camp, Liger students were invited to present more information on the Liger program and Cambodian culture at one of the largest international schools in Beijing.