FAQ: Backyard Explorers

When are module classes held?
Backyard Explorers modules are scheduled on demand. We recommend that parents self-assemble groups of 8-12 children (accompanied by at least 4-5 parents), and then propose dates for our consideration. Sessions can run anytime between 8am and 4pm, Mondays through Saturdays.

Why don’t you set fixed times for classes?
Flexibility is one of the hallmarks of our system, which works fairly similarly to chartering a boat or coach, or arranging music, sports or private tuition lessons.

What is the recommended age group for Backyard Explorers?
Our core modules are designed with mid-primary to early-secondary (8-14 years) students in mind. However, we welcome strongly motivated children from outside of this age group. We have a special unstructured programme called Kaki Rimba for toddlers and preschoolers.

My child is in her/his mid- to late-teens. Do you provide science/biology tuition?
We may consider requests for tutoring on a case by case basis. We can provide coaching on theoretical and practical aspects of the Malaysian and IGCSE syllabus.

Where will the programmes be conducted?
Unless otherwise specified, all programmes will run at Universiti Malaya’s Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden. Rimba Ilmu can easily be located on Waze or Google Maps. If coming by public transport, take bus T815 from Phileo Damansara MRT station to UM’s Pusat Sukan stop. Walk down the road, and turn left at the junction; we are behind the UM Arena stadium.

What is the medium of instruction?
Classes will be conducted in English, Malay or a mix (bilingual), according to each group’s preference.

Who are the programme instructors?
Backyard Explorers is curated, designed and led by Thary Gazi Goh and Benjamin Ong, UM graduates in Ecology & Biodiversity. Thary is completing his PhD in entomology, while Benjamin holds an MSc in Sustainable Development from the University of St Andrews. From time to time, modules and programmes will feature their research and conservation partners as guest instructors.

What is your health and safety policy?
All participants must acknowledge that there is an element of risk and danger with fieldwork and other outdoor scientific activities. However, UBI endeavours to ensure the highest possible standards of health and safety by:

  • Conducting risk assessments for all modules/programmes, and allowing prospective participants to review this before committing themselves to the modules/programmes.
  • Ensuring participants make a health declaration so that the module/programme instructors are aware of participants’ health and/or medical needs.
  • Providing health and safety briefings for each module/programme.
  • Ensuring that at each session, at least one certified first-aider is present, and a well-stocked and periodically-audited first-aid kit is available.

UBI’s staff, instructors and/or volunteers are not liable for health and safety support outside class/session times. Parents and/or children who arrive early before, and/or stay on after, sessions do so at their own risk.

What is your policy on replacements and refunds?
Sessions may be replaced under the following circumstances:

  • Unavailability of venue on short notice (e.g., unforeseen University request).
  • Prohibitive weather persists for more than 45 minutes of class: this includes lightning, thunder, heavy rain or equivalent adverse weather conditions. Sessions will proceed in light rain or otherwise mild inclement weather; all outdoor activity will cease if signs of lightning or thunder are present. If prohibitive weather lasts for less than 45 minutes of class, our liability is limited to an extension of the present or subsequent session.
  • A session officially cancelled in writing by UBI staff due to instructor unavailability or other unforeseen circumstances.

In exceptional circumstances whereby UBI is unable to conduct or replace sessions that have already been booked, participants have three options: either (a) reschedule the class/session, or (b) keep it as a class-in-hand for a future programme, or (c) claim a 50% refund on the cancelled session’s fees.

In the event that a scheduled programme or class is to be postponed, we will provide as much notice as possible. However, UBI reserves the right to modify, substitute, replace or postpone advertised programmes, modules and/or sessions thereof without prior notice.

Are you on social media?
Not yet, although we may be sometime in the future. Email is our preferred mode of communication. (And apparently, we are not alone!)

I have more/other questions…
If your question is not answered here or anywhere else on this site, do drop us a note on our contact form.