On June 19th, Ocean Sciences’ Dr. Patrick Gagnon and two of his graduate students, David Bélanger and Anne Provencher St-Pierre, had the pleasure of communicating, in French, their passion for oceans and marine life to 30 first-grade students from École des Grands-Vents (a K-12 French school located in St. John’s).Students were eager to learn about the seaweeds and animals that live in the sea through interactive presentations and hands-on activities. Using live animals, as well as pictures and videos taken underwater by Dr. Gagnon and his team, the students were introduced to the diversity of organisms and habitats found in the ocean in Eastern Canada. They had the opportunity to get their hands on scuba diving equipment, take a seat in a small research vessel adapted for scientific diving, and understand how underwater studies can be conducted by divers using cameras and other pieces of equipment designed specifically for use underwater. The students also visited Dr. Gagnon’s research laboratory, used microscopes to observe small organisms, and learned some of the scientific techniques used in marine ecology by trying themselves to conduct a survey of a simulated bottom community using quadrats. All through the day, the excitement and interest of the students for the marine environment was clearly visible by the numerous smiles and questions. They completed this day of discoveries with a close encounter with marine organisms by visiting the touch tank and seals at the OSC.
This first edition was a great learning experience for the students and their teachers (Nicole Amirault and Lisa Rouselle) and parents who said, before heading back to school, that the event may just have marked the beginning of a tradition with École des Grands-Vents! Certainly, Dr. Gagnon and his students are thrilled that they could interact with such bright and interested young minds. They look forward to organizing and running similar events in the near future!