This spring, Memorial researchers and alumni are participating in an educational series to explore the exciting world of ocean science and technology with students from across the province.
Presented in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the Oceans Learning Partnership (OLP) and Oceans Advance, the events saw junior high and high school students from St. John’s and the surrounding area visit the Johnson Geo Centre for talks from guest scientists and entrepreneurs.
Students from about a dozen schools across the province watched and participated via a live stream as part of a new digital education pilot program.
Spirit of stewardship
The series featured three events.
Into the Deep: Career Immersion Day Series, included presentations from Dr. Paul Snelgrove of the departments of Ocean Sciences and Biology, and Dr. Brad de Young with the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography.
Gardens of the Deep: Corals and Sponges of Atlantic Canada, featured Vonda Wareham Hayes, DFO biologist and Memorial alumna, and Dr. Evan Edinger, a professor with the departments of Biology, Earth Sciences and Geography at Memorial.
Special Places: An Exploration of Our Marine Protected Areas, featured DFO scientists Dr. Corey Morris, Laura Pilgrim and Victoria Howse, who are all graduates of the Department of Biology.
“We also hope to foster a spirit of stewardship towards MPAs based on our historical connections to the sea.”
Maria Giovannini, project lead, OLP, says the purpose of the events is to increase student knowledge of the ecological and cultural importance of marine protected areas (MPAs) and the ecological and cultural importance of corals and sponges in the Newfoundland and Labrador region.
She says the events are also meant to instill an attitude of appreciation of MPAs as special places in Earth’s oceans that belong to everyone and need protection.
“We also hope to foster a spirit of stewardship towards MPAs based on our historical connections to the sea,” said Ms. Giovannini.
“Integration of ocean topics like these into the curriculum and training and professional development of teachers is the focus of OLP’s strategic plan. We are actively working with the Department of Education, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association and Memorial’s Faculty of Education to see that happen.”
Dr. Morris, who is also an adjunct professor with Memorial’s Department of Ocean Sciences, has spent the last 20 years doing fieldwork in Labrador studying the biology of fish species.
During that time, he says he made a point to visit local schools and promote marine protected areas, as his department has learned how to create and monitor their effectiveness.
“Many of the graduate students I’ve worked with became interested in this field at a young age from spending time on their local beaches.”
“I’ve found it useful to get youth involved in research and education as soon as possible,” he said.
“Many of the graduate students I’ve worked with became interested in this field at a young age from spending time on their local beaches. We find that programs like this also spark interest and participating in them is a great way to promote and encourage conservation, management and fisheries research.”
James Butler, a teacher at Frank Roberts Junior High School in Conception Bay South, agrees.
His students participated in the educational series — he says he likes the relationships the OLP is fostering between science and students.
“Opportunities to be personally included in science studies of local marine environments is conducive to fostering lifetime learning.”
“The hands-on learning experience of these field trips was enjoyed by both students and teachers,” he said.
“The opportunity to engage the adventurous mind of the adolescent outside the classroom encouraged motivation and enthusiasm towards science. Opportunities to be personally included in science studies of local marine environments is conducive to fostering lifetime learning and we look forward to future adventures with the OLP.”