It has to be said that rarely two days are the same when working in marine education. For a start no two classes of kids are the same; their questions, reactions, drawings and smiles are all different. Despite this the thing that remains the same is their enthusiasm to learn about the marine world as they stare wide-eyed at the incredible colours of coral reefs and the variety of species being projected in front of them. No two weeks are ever the same either due to the variety of things that I am involved in with this project in Seychelles. As I look back over the last two months I’ve certainly had a fantastically varied time.
As usual the school visits have continued. In particular with a great couple of days at Anse Royale Primary School and some lively sessions at the Early Childhood and junior sections of the International School. Sharks have been the main topic of interest particularly during the sessions with the International School juniors’ Wild Life Club, where the children learnt not just about sharks as a group of amazing creatures but they also explored the many shark species in our oceans and their variety of teeth. Fun sessions with groups of four years olds have been held weekly at the Natural History Museum. At this age many of the children do not have a huge understanding of English so the sessions mainly involved looking at lots of pictures of marine creatures and watching short movies of dolphins, turtles and life on the coral reef. The aim of this is so that the children see how incredible our oceans are and that they start to develop an appreciation for this environment. The slide show ends with pictures of litter in our oceans and the threat of plastic bags to turtles. The sessions are visual but with a message that can be understood despite the language barrier. The wonderful teachers are however on hand to translate and relay questions. The children of course do not sit still for too long as I’ve got them jumping up so we can sing songs before we get down to some serious marine life drawing!
Learning is fun © Abbie Hine
Weekly teacher training sessions have been conducted as well for both the primary and secondary schools. These sessions are incredibly valuable as it is the teachers who will be continuing to educate the children and students about the marine world by integrating it into their lessons. September was “Divers against Debris” month so we were involved in a few beach, mangrove and reef cleans with the general public, resorts and marine research expeditions. Just on one of the beach cleans we collected 70 bags of rubbish weighting in at 436kg in just 2 hours; great work by everyone involved.
Each year in Seychelles there is a big underwater festival (SUBIOS) and as part of this festival the Ministry of Education and Department of Environment run marine related activities for children and students. I am heavily involved in this as SOSF is one of the sponsors for this event. With this being the case I have the enormously enjoyable job of judging the art competition. This has to be one of my favourite jobs of the year and each year I am totally blown away by the standard of art that we, the judges, are faced with. The winners have now been chosen but you’ll have to wait until the next blog to see the winning artwork, as the prize giving ceremony is not for another couple of weeks!
The end of October saw me back in the UK attending Whalefest 2012 (http://www.whale-fest.com). This event was the world’s biggest celebration and declaration for whales and dolphins. It also gave those of us working in marine conservation and education a chance to meet and inform the general public and other organisations about the work that we are involved in. I gave a talk at the show on this SOSF project in Seychelles, the work that is involved, how marine education can be provided in schools, at resorts and to the general public. Whalefest was a wonderfully positive event and for me a great opportunity to tell more people about my marine education project and the on going work of SOSF around the world.