Memorial University is announcing a partnership on an initiative to enhance its public education and outreach activities related to ocean education for secondary schools.
Led by Memorial's Department of Ocean Sciences, the initiative will provide an expanded program of field trips and hands-on activities for high school students across the province.
At an event today at Holy Spirit High School in Conception Bay South, the university signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Oceans Learning Partnership (OLP). It will see the development of new, technology enhanced programming to be delivered at three of Memorial's marine facilities - the Ocean Sciences Centre, the Bonne Bay Marine Station and the Holyrood Marine Base.
OLP is a multi-stakeholder initiative that involves program partners from the provincial departments of Education and Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada.
Together they will work with Memorial to deliver the Ocean Education Initiative, which aims to address the gap in ocean studies in the schools and create a much-needed bridge between high school and post-secondary.
Memorial University continually strives for excellence through its three frameworks: Teaching and Learning, Research Strategy and Public Engagement.
"This project spans these three areas, with a particular focus on public outreach," said Dr. David Wardlaw, provost and vice-president (academic) of Memorial University. "The partnership with OLP will give our researchers an opportunity to share their expertise and resources with our province's youth, ensuring future generations have every opportunity to understand this resource that is vital to our continued growth and success."
The MOU will see pilot and joint programming take place at the three partner sites using existing infrastructure, including touch tanks, wet labs, aquaria and presentation theatres. It will also include at-sea excursions on in-shore tour/research vessels, providing hands-on, experiential learning opportunities for students.
Today also saw the announcement of the Digital Oceans Project, which expands the reach of the field program to schools all across the province through a dedicated video streaming portal. It will deliver live, locally relevant content about the coastal and oceans environment of Newfoundland and Labrador directly to the classrooms from vessels, underwater equipment and partner shore facilities, and allow students to directly interact with Memorial or Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientists about what they are seeing.
"Through our joint programming initiative with Memorial University's marine facilities, we are able to meet our goal of stimulating interest in the ocean sciences among high school students," said Roger Pearson, OLP chair. "In particular, the opportunity to engage online with ocean scientists, technicians and other professionals via the Digital Oceans Project opens up new and exciting opportunities for our youth all across the province."
The Oceans Education Initiative was first launched in November 2011, with $40,000 in funding from the Hebron Project. The provincial government supported the program and teacher resources development activities with an additional $450,000.
The Digital Oceans Project, a new component of the Oceans Education Initiative, was funded by an additional $350,000 from the Hebron Project and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The funding will also cover a new data collection application and guide to support student field research.