Little Cayman’s marine research center aims to take classrooms under the water in a new initiative that will allow scientists to broadcast lessons to students around the world from beneath the waves.
The Central Caribbean Marine Institute has already begun delivering interactive lessons via webcam from its research center.
The next step, according to CCMI president Carrie Manfrino, is to deliver an eight-lesson ocean science curriculum, live from Little Cayman’s coral reefs.
The institute is in the process of finding sponsors for the $75,000 project with the ambition to go live in May.
Ms. Manfrino said the program would initially focus on children in grades four, five and six, and would be available to all schools in the Cayman Islands as well as internationally.
A lesson on the lionfish invasion led by the institute’s education manager Tom Sparke, including the live dissection of a lionfish, was broadcast last year to schools in Cayman, Peru and the U.S. as a trial for the project.
Additional investment is required to facilitate the ReefsGoLive underwater broadcasts, which involve marine scientists communicating in real-time with students in the classroom through the use of full face masks worn by the diver and the ability to livestream from underwater.
“We now live in a world where information and media is available in real time,” said Mr. Sparke, who developed the 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.”
Ms. Manfrino said part of CCMI’s mandate is to inspire the next generation to be stewards of the ocean.
She said its goal is for every child in the Cayman Islands to be “ocean literate” by age 12, meaning they would have a good understanding of life in the ocean, coral reef ecosystems and how human activity impacts ocean life.
The center currently invites students on regular field trips, catering to about 200 children a year.
But, she said, the curriculum would help reach more youngsters in a meaningful way than is currently possible. She hopes around 800 children will benefit from interactive underwater lessons each year.
For more information, visit www.reefresearch.org/reefs-go-live.