Taking classrooms underwater is the objective of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s latest educational initiative.
The CCMI is a U.S., U.K., and Cayman Islands non-profit organisation whose mission is to protect coral reefs for the future by strengthening the understanding of healthy coral reefs. It engages children and communities in active coral reef conservation as a part of its science and society initiative. Public and private contributions support its work.
Designed to let any student, regardless of location or physical ability, experience the wonders of life under the ocean’s surface, ReefsGoLive is the CCMI’s latest initiative to promote ocean literacy and ultimately to create more stewards of the oceans, without them even having to get wet.
ReefsGoLive is a virtual underwater experience with marine scientists communicating in real-time with students in the classroom, living room or on a mobile device, through the use of full face masks worn by the diver and the ability to live stream from underwater.
“We now live in a world where information and media is available in real-time”, said Tom Sparke, education manager at CCMI who developed this initiative. “Education needs to be tailored to connect with today’s student. ReefsGoLive is an innovative tool that will engage with young students by taking them on a virtual dive with our marine scientists to unlock the secrets of Little Cayman’s reefs. ReefsGoLive has the potential to change the way students interact with their pristine waters and aid in CCMI’s mission to promote ocean literacy amongst young people.”
The project has already been piloted with a live lionfish lesson delivered in real-time to a group of 25 students at Westwood High School in Massachusetts where it was well received.
Ocean literacy is one of CCMI’s key mandates as it strives to take its cutting edge research and translate that information to the wider public through education programmes that will promote ocean stewardship globally.
“ReefsGoLive will make it possible to broadcast live underwater lessons right into any classroom that has a weblink,” said Dr. Carrie Manfrino, CCMI president. “The programme will help the CCMI to reach their long term goal for every child in the Cayman Islands to be ocean literate by the time they are 12 years old.”
Each year, CCMI offers scholarships for local school children to come over to the Little Cayman Research Centre, they host 10 local school programmes, and their educators travel to Grand Cayman to teach part of their Young Environmental Leadership Course. “We have run out of space at the research centre during peak months for researchers and we have been looking for solutions. I am pleased that we will get closer to the grand vision of ocean literacy thanks to the ReefsGoLive project”, she said.