AHS' Special Science Classes Visit IRRI in Laguna

August 03, 2015
Emmanuel D. Delocado

Last July 31, the Ateneo de Manila High School’s Grade 10 & 11 Special Science classes (10-S and 11-S) went on an educational tour at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna. The students went to IRRI to witness the transformative role of agriculture science in society, to observe ongoing sustainability efforts of our country, and to interact with rice specialists.
After the three-hour journey to Los Baños, the students were oriented about the vision of IRRI to study rice and improve its production and quality for mankind. After which, the students went to the Experiment Station where they experienced land preparation drills. They were given a chance to plow the field using a carabao, a hydro-tiller, and a hand tractor. In the activity, students braved the mud to participate in hands-on farming activities.
In the afternoon, the students went to the Riceworld Museum to learn about the different stages of rice planting and the cultural relevance of rice. The exhibit also showcases the different planting equipment and even rice-related festivals in different regions of the country.
The students were eventually led to two important facilities of the institute: the International Rice Genebank and the Klaus Lampe Genotyping Services Laboratories. In the Genebank, the students entered the -40 degree Celsius freezer rooms which house the hundred thousand rice species and varieties being stored by the institute. In addition, they were introduced to the process of preparing the rice varieties for storage. The Genebank maintains the collection in order to study rice diversity and to preserve the varieties for future generations.
The last stop was the genotyping molecular biology laboratory where the students were given a walkthrough on how rice modification is done. Rice modification is a process by which certain rice varieties were modified to imbibe characteristics they do not usually possess. Several outputs of the said lab were the drought-resistant variety and the rice that grows even when submerged in floodwater. Simulations of certain procedures were handled by the rice specialists and participated by the students.
The day-long activity was positively received by the students even if it fell on a school holiday. Renz Reyes of 11-S-A said, “The trip opened my eyes to how integral and beneficial agriculture is to the country. It gave us the wonderful opportunity to experience working in a rice field.”
Several students expressed their surprise and admiration for the IRRI’S vision of “Rice science for a better world.”  Andrew Aquino of 10-S-B found the trip to be ‘very educational.’ He said, “I was very much fascinated with what the IRRI does to help put an end to poverty around the world.”

“The trip was great,” said Cisco Ortega of 11-S-A. “I did not expect there to be that much to learn about rice, but there was so much to IRRI that really left me amazed.”
Ado Imperio of 10-S-M noted that there is more to agriculture than farming. “Our trip to the IRRI was an engaging trip that exposed us to the work environment of those involved in rice science, from the farmers in the fields to the genetic engineers in the labs. Not only this, but it also emphasized our nation’s role in mainstreaming sustainable development locally and internationally,” he said.
The 35 students were accompanied by Mr Emmanuel Delocado, Mrs Marie Clarisa Arandia, and Mrs Eloisa Albert of the Science subject area. The trip was part of the initiative of the subject area to mainstream sustainability efforts under its “AMDG for SDG” (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam for Sustainable Development Goals) theme.