On the 11th and 18th of November a group of interns and staff from MCP have had the pleasure of hosting an oceanography day with the high school science students at Foundation University in Dumaguete. Creating a successful environmental education programme with the local schools is something MCP have been pursuing since the very beginning of the organisation. When the biology teacher of the high school expressed interest in creating some sort of oceanography day for the students, Johnny and I were obliged to get involved.
We are interns at MCP staying for four months and we both have a bachelor’s degree in Oceans, Climate and Physical Geography. Together with Annelies (MCP science officer) and the staff at Foundation we began organising the event. We recruited help from two of the marine biologists at MCP, Miranda and Chase.
The aim of the event was to introduce the students to the fundamentals of oceanography. There is currently no existing programme in Dumaguete, in which students can learn about oceanography. Therefore, it was great to be able to work with a local university on this topic. We hosted two Fridays at Foundation where we started the morning with two lectures covering some of the main aspects of oceanography including tides, waves, circulation, ENSO, biodiversity, chemistry, sea level rise and human impacts. This was followed up by some group project work creating and presenting posters on each of the topics. To make the competition interesting we offered a prize for the winning group – an ocean experience day at MCP including a mangrove tour and snorkelling with possible discover scuba diving. This motivation gave a healthy competitive edge between the students.
We were utterly overwhelmed by the creativity and effort the students put in to their projects. The posters included, amongst many others, a hand drawn world map illustrating the ocean circulation patterns and a 3D papier-mâché creation to illustrate sea level rise! Every student got involved either in researching the content or getting creative and designing the poster.
The winning group for the first week were team El Nino who produced an excellent, informative poster on the mitigation strategies for the community in response to El Nino events. It was topped off with an incredibly engaging presentation which got all the students cheering! The winners of the second week were team Sea Level who produced a fantastic poster explaining the causes of sea level rise and the predicted sea level by 2100.
For someone that is not a natural when it comes to teaching and giving presentations, I found the day extremely rewarding. Teaching the students about the ocean and seeing their passion and enthusiasm to learn about our planet was incredible. Hopefully MCP can continue to expand their education programme with more events like this. All in all, a great day!