BZS educating students about ‘magnificent marine environment’
Famed marine biologist, explorer and conservationist, Dr Sylvia Earle once said: “With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you're connected to the sea, no matter where on earth you live.”
Water connects every living being on earth, and when the Bermuda Zoological Society was approached to be a partner in this year's Bermuda National Gallery Student Art Competition, Dr Alex Amat, one of the educators at BZS, knew the very best way to collaborate.
“I wanted to find a way for students to not only express their connection with water through the art competition, but to also give them first-hand experience of our magnificent marine environment and to support increased awareness of mankind's link with water,” Dr Amat explained.
Thanks to her work with the Kids on the Reef programme, which takes place every spring, Dr Amat was able to develop a unique, one-day course for students aged nine and up, called Water is Me.
“Some will say that you can't do snorkelling trips in October and November — however the water is still nice and we wanted to continue to expose children to the ocean. Also, students were provided with wetsuits to use, thanks to our partnership with I Am Water.”
Eight different schools jumped at the chance of taking their students out on this inspiring adventure, including St George's Prep, East End Primary, St David's Primary, Francis Patton, Purvis Primary, Victor Scott, TN Tatem and the Berkeley Institute. In all, more than 200 students participated.
“All the students had different experiences, as they went to different locations to snorkel — some went to Trunk Island or North Rock, and others visited patch reefs around Bermuda.”
Each trip featured grade-appropriate activities, which were linked to the science and social studies curriculums, followed by an afternoon of snorkelling aboard The Endurance, BZS's floating classroom.
“We had an academic session in the morning that aligned with that age-group's theme for the Student Art Competition, and also reinforced what they are learning in school, while the afternoon was spent in the water.
“Primary 5 and 6 students focused on evaporation and condensation experiments and the water cycle. With the middle school students, we explored human impact on the environment, especially the water cycle and the ocean, such as overfishing and sustainable living. I tried to customise each lesson for the needs of the individual class, so that no two sessions were exactly the same.”
Senior school students had an experience that was similar to the reef surveys conducted during Reef Watch, BZS's annual citizen-science initiative, which included coral and reef identification.
Due to its success, BZS is looking at making the one-day Water is Me field trips a regular part of their fall educational programme so that more schools can participate.
For more information on how to involve your class in Water is Me, contact Dr Alex Amat at email@example.com