Educators connect classroom to nature
Fifty junior school social studies teachers had an opportunity to get outside the classroom for hands-on learning at Blue Lagoon Island as part of a two-day disaster preparedness workshop.
The educators spent the first day in the classroom focusing on a variety of topics they can pass on to their students – including hurricane tracking and preparation. They also heard from the different partner agencies about the role each plays before and in the aftermath of a disaster situation.
They visited Blue Lagoon Island where they spent time in the Education Department’s Sea Lab classroom and had the opportunity on the second day to connect much of the theory from the day before with hands-on learning. This included a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) water rescue simulation led by Jason Rolle, Blue Lagoon Island lifeguard supervisor.
The teachers also had the opportunity to meet dolphins face to face and learn all about the animals during a dolphin encounter, which was a first for many of them.
Blue Lagoon Island offers a wide variety of education programs and marine awareness assembly opportunities to between 6,000 and 8,000 Bahamian students each year. Most of the students who interact with Blue Lagoon Island, however, are at the primary level, so, for many of the junior high school teachers participating in the workshop, this was their first introduction to Blue Lagoon Island’s educational offerings.
“Now, when I hear the words Blue Lagoon Island, I’m not going to think just a tourist center, but it’s an educational center,” said Tamara Moncur, St. John’s College social studies and history teacher. She said the integrated learning opportunities offered by Blue Lagoon Island’s Education Department are “phenomenal” and something all Bahamians need to embrace.
Sally Johnson, the Ministry of Education’s education officer for social studies, junior high, with responsibility for the social studies program in all public junior schools, worked alongside Te-Shalla Clarke, Blue Lagoon Island’s education supervisor, to create a program that would help the teachers see first-hand the importance of teaching their students the importance of conservation and ways they can help to protect the environment.
“One of the first mandates I got when I got the position about four years ago is to revise our curriculum. Even in the classroom, my dream and my goal always was to connect the environment into what we are teaching in the classroom,” said Clarke. “It is heaven sent to have Blue Lagoon Island partner with us on this project. These teachers are going to be changed.”
Jessica Darville, D.W. Davis Junior School social studies teacher, said having somewhere to bring her students outside of the classroom is critical, as today’s students learn differently than generations before.
“We always have that opportunity to teach and explain, but now we have the ability to come here, to experience it and get a hands-on feel of the information that they are getting in the classroom. It is very important. Our students today are so hands-on. They prefer to get out and do as opposed to sit in the classroom and write,” she said.
Blue Lagoon Island’s mission is to inspire and engage guests to learn more about marine animals and preserve and protect The Bahamas’ extraordinary ocean environment.
“This is what we are here for,” said Clarke. “To help make these essential connections to what students are learning in their books for their exams. We know that if we have an opportunity to actually show them what they are learning in a very real environment, that they can relate to, the chances of the information sticking and them understanding their personal role in protecting our environment and doing things in a sustainable manner is far more likely.”
Andrea Watkins, L.W. Young Junior School’s subject co-ordinator said they’re usually only exposed to online U.S.-based materials when it comes to sustainability resources that are available. After the experience, she said when they think of Blue Lagoon Island, they can think outside of leisure.
“We can actually connect education with it. So, it actually brings the two together and it can help us a great deal inside the classroom. It is extremely important because inside of our curriculum we try to teach conservation and preservation. Now, our students are able to understand why it is important that we preserve these resources for future generations,” she said.
The workshop was co-ordinated by Blue Lagoon Island, the Ministry of Education, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), The Department of Meteorology, Bahamas Red Cross and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
• Dolphin Encounters – Project BEACH conducts numerous educational and outreach programs. To participate in a program or learn more, contact Education at 359-0278 or 363-7180 – ext. 303 or [email protected]