This long-standing SOSF project (it been over 3 years now!) is well known within Seychelles. This has been mainly due to the wonderful collaboration with the Seychelles Ministry of Education who have enabled this marine education project to be a regular feature within the schools and subsequently part of the community. I have and continue to enjoy chatting to thousands of children and hundreds of teachers about the incredible creatures we have in our oceans. I also have the privileged of regularly getting stopped by children saying hello and wanting to show me the turtle shapes they can make using their hands that they learnt in their sessions. Or I notice shyer children tugging at their parents’ arms and pointing at lady who came to their school and talked about sharks! I’m even considering setting up a question emergency phone line following an early morning call (7am) the other morning from a sweet little girl who’d been at one of my sessions but was desperate to get the answer as to how whales get rid of water from their blow holes. It certainly started my day with a smile.
I often find myself wishing more countries supported this integration of marine education in their schools. What we have here in Seychelles should be showcased. As these thoughts drift around my head an amazing opportunity presented itself to me.
Skype in the classroom (https://education.skype.com/) approached me asking if I’d be interested in being part of their Exploring Oceans month in November. Never one to say no I planned three classes and waited to see who signed up. Rather overwhelmed with the response (5718 views and 105 schools signed up) I set about coordinating live lessons with the signed up schools. Due to major time zone variations (most schools were in North America and at least 9 hours away), innovation had to come into play; the result of which was some fun filming sessions at Seychelles Schools. These films were send to the signed up schools around the world – many of whom had never heard of Seychelles let alone the marine education work that goes on here. The signed up schools watched the filmed lessons and then we had live question and answer sessions via Skype. Questions were fired at me not just relating to my class but also about Seychelles. November turned into December and these sessions are continuing to be very popular.
These sessions have been an ideal way to showcase SOSF and the project we have out here in Seychelles, to teach children about the country and highlight the many aspects of this wonderful place that are unique and special, especially the marine environment. The Skype sessions usually start with the children looking at a world map to see how far away they are from Seychelles and how many time zones away they are as we talk. When we had fun filming the classes the children in the schools in Seychelles also learnt about some of the places where children would be learning about Seychelles. Aside from this these Skype sessions have been a brilliant opportunity for my brain to be tested! To be in front of a class of, on average, about 30 children and have no idea of what wonderful (and often rather wacky!) question may come out of their mouths is quite an exciting and very fun experience. Keep tuned for my next blog “I’ll take questions now…”
It has been a great experience and one that is set to continue into 2014 with the aim of linking the Seychelles schools more directly with the schools I have connected with around the world.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2014