Study Buddy (Explorer): Conservation charity’s art contest encourages children to make emotional connection to nature

  • Each week, Study Buddy Explorer presents an interesting story that we have adjusted to be more accessible for all English learners
  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
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Liu Ying-ying is a musician and founder of Hong Kong charity LumiVoce. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Content provided by the British Council

Read the following text and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] Hong Kong is rich in biodiversity. The city is home to thousands of insect species, including 240 butterfly species and 130 dragonfly species. And while many of our city’s bugs literally fly under the radar, Dr Liu Ying-ying wants to encourage people to appreciate the vital role they play in our ecosystems.

[2] “Insects are fundamental,” said Liu, who was born in Liaoning province in northeast China. “We depend on them for pollination. They help spread seeds and are a vital food source. That’s why ‘Small and Beautiful’ – insects and bugs – is the theme of this year’s Voices for the Planet Challenge.”

[3] Liu is the founder of LumiVoce, a Hong Kong charity that inspires children to love and protect wildlife and nature through music, arts and education. For the past three years, the educational wildlife conservation charity has organised the Voices for the Planet Challenge. It is a competition that encourages children to create art while making an emotional connection with wildlife. The art can be an illustration, painting, video, photo or piece of music.

[4] This year’s programme has a focus on insects, and it starts on February 14 and runs until May 22. Liu wants as many schools as possible to sign up. Blending the arts and education to support biodiversity made sense, she said.

[5] “Neuroscience shows that the arts are powerful vehicles to engage with both the rational and emotional parts of the brain,” said Liu. She is a classical soprano and pianist, and she has music in her blood as the daughter of classical composer Liu Chi. She described the Voices for the Planet Challenge as a fun and creative way to engage young people. “We don’t want to be preachy,” the musician added.

[6] Last year’s programme attracted interest from 19 schools in Hong Kong and mainland China. Liu said she was blown away by the creativity shown, including a project by Tay Oh, a 10-year-old Kennedy School student who placed first in the wildlife video category.

[7] “It was a beautiful animated video about the plight of the pink dolphins – he and his co-author even added their own music,” said Liu. She also recalled a poster by Ariane Crane from West Island School that was impressive.

[8] Online workshops are a part of this year’s programme, and there are sessions with American composer Robert Copeland and Hong Kong pop singer-songwriter Jocelyn Chan Ming-hei. Speakers on biodiversity and conservation include Encompass HK founder Benita Chick and Hong Kong Shark Foundation director Andrea Richey. Other featured artists and judges include photographer Robert Ferguson, composer Cary Ratcliff, pianist Ines Draskovic, artist Tamera Bedford, writer Cheryl Rosebush and pianist and choirmaster Paco Álvarez Diaz.
Source: South China Morning Post, February 13


Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. How many different dragonfly species are there in Hong Kong?

2. What does the phrase “fly under the radar” in paragraph 1 suggest about the city’s insects?
A. They are everywhere.
B. No one notices them.
C. Most people see them as pests.
D. The insects are hard to find.

3. List two roles that insects play according to paragraph 2.

4. What sorts of artwork can children submit for the Voices for the Planet Challenge?
A. photographs
B. illustrations
C. musical works
D. all of the above

5. Read paragraphs 4 and 5, and decide if the following statements are True, False or Not Given. (4 marks)
(i) The Voices for the Planet Challenge targets adults.
(ii) One of Liu’s family members writes music.
(iii) Art helps activate the left and right sides of the brain.
(iv) Submissions for this year’s Voices for the Planet Challenge should be related to the theme of insects.

6. Find a word in paragraph 5 that means “based on reason and logic”.

7. According to paragraphs 6 and 7, what was Tay Oh’s video about?

8. What other submission caught Liu’s eye according to paragraph 7?

9. Which of the following is not part of this year’s programme according to paragraph 8?
A. guided tours in wildlife parks
B. talks about conservation
C. activities led by songwriters
D. online workshops

Artwork by West Island School student Ariane Crane, 11, from last year’s event. Photo: Handout


1. There are 130 dragonfly species.
2. B
3. pollinate flowers / spread seeds / are a vital food source (any 2)
4. D
5. (i) F; (ii) T; (iii) NG; (iv) T
6. rational
7. the plight of pink dolphins
8. a poster by Ariane Crane from West Island School
9. A

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