Friday, 31 July 2015

Sea Champion John takes "Aliens of the Deep" into the classroom

John has found a great way to combine his Sea Championing with his other voluntary work to help educate the marine biologists of the future. From the rockpools to the classroom - "Rockschool" anyone?

As both a Wembury Marine Centre volunteer and a Marine Conservation Society (MCS) Sea Champion I’ve been keen to find ways the two organisations could work together. I’ve been helping with rockpool rambles and organising events at Wembury Marine Centre for 12 years and recently, as an MCS Sea Champion, I’ve done the training to deliver the Cool Seas workshops to schools.  With the agreement of the Marine Centre team I came up with the idea of promoting the MCS Cools Sea workshops to the schools I helped guide on rockpool rambles.

Donna Briggs a teacher from Ernesettle Community School, brought her class of Year Twos down to Wembury on a June Friday and got in touch soon after to ask for information about the Cool Seas workshops which resulted in me delivering “Aliens of the Deep” to two groups of 30 children two weeks later!

This was a bit unnerving.  I’d only recently done the training and rather assumed I’d help with one being delivered by someone else before going solo, but that wasn’t the way it was going to be.  Happily Jules Agate, the SW Sea Champions Coordinator, my muse and mentor (she doesn’t like being described as my “handler” – I guess I’m flattered that she regards me as not quite wild) was there to help.  She brought all the bits and pieces I needed – like the cuddly squid, octopus and turtle, and copies of the Cool Seas Explorers’ “Wild guide to our seas” and we were ready to go.

Donna had done a fantastic job in arranging things at the school.  The reception staff expected Jules and me, welcomed us into the school and knew where we were going to perform.  The technology worked just as you’d want, so we were completely ready when Donna’s class turned up spot on time. “Aliens of the Deep” covers a very different part of the ocean to the rockpools at the Wembury Marine Centre.  

The workshop looks at the challenges creatures face in the deep sea and the adaptations they have made.  As part of the workshop we asked the class to design their own “alien” and show how it might be suited to life in the deep sea.  In designing his “alien”, one student came up with a fish with a magnetic sensor enabling it to detect and eat the scaly-foot snail.  A very original adaptation – and who’s to say he’s wrong!

We had some very mature reflections from the children when we asked them what they’d learnt.  “Half our oxygen comes from the sea,” and “ROVs are good because they let us see what’s down there without endangering a pilot,” are a couple of the great things they shared.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the session.  Certainly Jules and I did, and Donna said the children were still talking about it the next day.  It was a good example of working together; I hope we can do that more.

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