Engaging School Children with our Amazing World

This article was published in 2018.

What do lemurs eat? How long do they live? How far can they jump? What can we learn from lemurs? Is it possible to communicate with lemurs or other members of our primate family?

All these questions, and many more, were posed by several dozen energetic students from Sorrento Elementary School who came to the main conference room at Caritas on the Sorrento Centre campus to hear from Malcolm Shapcott Ramsay, a primatologist who has recently returned from two years of research work in Madagascar (Malcolm is the son of Sorrento Centre Executive Director Michael Shapcott). 

Curiousity is a good thing – it drives us to become engaged in the beautiful world around us. It is the foundation for good science. People of faith are called into a close and loving relationship with the world around us, as well as all the creatures. Christians call this “creation care” and it’s all about an informed and compassionate engagement. It’s not about imposing a religious dogma on the world around us, but drawing a theology from our observations and involvement. 

Malcolm explained that the primate family – of which humans are one member – is a big family that includes well-known cousins and relations, such as chimps and gorillas. The approximately 100 types of lemurs that all live exclusively in Madagascar are one special branch of the primate family. Malcolm’s primatological research is focused on the smallest of the primates, the cute little mouse lemur. 

Even though it was the last day of school before the holidays for the Sorrento children, and for many of them, visions of the happy days to come left them a bit “wiggly”, they were a studious and attentive group, and almost everyone got to ask at least one question, some managed to sneak in two or three.

It was great to be able to share Malcolm’s intelligene and his passion with the students.

As a bonus, the students invited Malcolm and Michael back to their school to look at a special fish tank, where they are watching teeny salmon eggs that are slowing developing…

What an amazing and wonderful world in which we live! 

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