Inspiring students to explore the deep sea
Bermuda's schoolchildren are being inspired to become submarine explorers as part of an interactive educational programme on the heels of the XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey.
The Ministry of Education is on board to integrate the Stem — science, technology, engineering and maths — programme into Bermuda's schools and some 500 booklets focused on the mission are available for free for primary-aged children and older.
Submarine Stem is XL Catlin's most recent educational effort to help to raise “ocean literacy and inspire a new generation”.
The activity booklets aim to introduce children and their families to the science of Nekton's research programme, the XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey that is using cutting edge technology to transport scientists to the depths of the ocean floor.
The Nekton mission uses the Triton submersible with a transparent pressure hull.
The first part of the mission is being held in Bermuda and the North West Atlantic. It is designed to monitor the health of the deep ocean and to learn more about its inhabitants, drawing on expertise from scientists from 12 different research institutes. Using the Nekton submarine, the survey targets marine habitats including seamounts, hydrothermal vents, canyons, methane seeps, and shipwrecks, which tend to attract areas of high biodiversity. Students are invited to become “part of the team” and get to learn about different professions in ocean exploration from marine biologist to submarine pilot.
“Submarine Stem develops young people's understanding of science, technology, engineering and maths using the adventurous context of investigating the deep ocean in cutting edge submersibles,” explains the booklet.
Education minister Wayne Scott told The Royal Gazette: “This is a good opportunity for parents to work with their children during this free time between Cup Match and the start of the school year. There are currently two books for families and children to work on together — one for primary level and one for older students. The goal is to eventually develop a more in-depth book. We are going to make the books for the older children available for collection at the offices of The Royal Gazette.
“When XL Catlin got involved, myself and the acting commissioner [Freddy Evans] met with them to assess how it could be beneficial for Bermuda.
“There is a 360 video of the deep ocean that children can follow. It is very interactive — children can look at what they are studying.
“In the Ministry of Education, we have been developing our Stem programme and co-ordinating Stem training for our teachers. We have recognised this is something we need to do more of and take full advantage of.”
Mike McGavick, the chief executive officer at XL Catlin, wrote in the introduction to the books: “XL Catlin has supported ocean science research since 2009 and educational outreach is part of that commitment. “Working with our partners, we believe that an important legacy is the delivery of high-quality, curriculum-led education programmes that in turn empower others to contribute.”
Successful students earn a submarine badge to “become a full member of the expedition team” and receive a special certificate from the Nekton mission director Oliver Steeds.
The team posts live updates from the mission on www.nektonmission.org and students are encouraged to share their achievements and to ask questions via social media.
The Ministry of Education is also exploring further opportunities based on the Submarine Stem programme using technology in the classroom. One option Mr Scott has discussed with XL Catlin is the use of 360-degree virtual reality headsets in the classroom as well as an Ocean Live event in which students from around the world could speak to scientists about ocean exploration.
The Submarine Stem booklets for the older children are now available for collection at The Royal Gazette offices at 2 Par-la-Ville Road, Hamilton.
All of the booklets are now available to download via www.NektonMission.org/education.
Update: this story has been amended to make clear that only the books for the older children have been printed and are available at The Royal Gazette offices