By Sonya Lee
This past October, I attended the European Marine Science Educators Association (EMSEA) conference as a CaNOE representative. I was selected to present a poster about CaNOE and to speak on my work combining ocean technology and ocean literacy at the Discovery Centre in Nova Scotia. This was my second time attending the EMSEA conference, so I knew from the beginning that I was in for three days of amazing presentations, interactive workshops and meeting and reconnecting with inspiring individuals working in ocean education.
The conference was hosted by Titanic Belfast, in Belfast, UK. The museum has fantastic galleries that tell the story of the great industrial feat and tragic demise of the RMS Titanic. Titanic Belfast is also a centre of education and ocean literacy, especially of the deep sea, as the search for the Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean brought deep sea exploration into the public eye. The museum was very impressive and it even had a ride that took you on a multi-sensory journey through the making of the Titanic.
I arrived a couple of days early to recover and explore a bit of Northern Ireland before diving into the conference. I made my way up to Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge (a Game of Thrones film location) and the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the north coast. The drive up the coast was very wind-y and narrow (not to mention on the left side of the road), but it was worth it for the breathtaking coastal views.
Day 1 of the conference started with the EMSEA president, Fiona Crouch, descending into the conference room down the Titanic’s iconic Grand Staircase. Following Fiona’s fun welcome, we heard from two keynote speakers. Ivan Conesa-Alcolea from the European Commission spoke on the progress of Horizon 2020’s ocean literacy initiatives, notably on SeaChange and ResponSEAble. David Cline from the US Aquaculture Society addressed the importance of moving away from capture fisheries into sustainable aquaculture for marine conservation and what educators can do to help.
The rest of the day was filled with parallel presentation sessions on bringing marine science into formal and informal education settings and workshops. I was inspired by presentations that highlighted amazing examples of hands-on activities at the Marine Biological Association, conservation communication from the Pitcairn Islands with the Zoological Society of London, and a study on barriers to teaching about the ocean in classrooms in the UK. During the workshop about aquaculture and education, there was an example of an education program by Ciimar in Portugal that used mini tanks in classrooms to show how molluscs in a multitrophic aquaculture system can improve water quality. It was interesting to hear different perspectives and discussions around aquaculture and education.
Starting on day one of the conference, I presented a poster on CaNOE. It was a great opportunity to speak to Europeans and Americans about ocean literacy in Canada and to share our achievements. It was a great first day as I caught up with fellow educators I had met last year, connected with new people and learned of their successes and challenges in advancing ocean literacy in their respective countries. Stay tuned to read about the next two days of the EMSEA conference!
Sonya is a Science Educator at the Discovery Centre, a science centre in Halifax, NS. She delivers hands-on curriculum-based science workshops to students in Grades P-12 all around Nova Scotia. This is her second year on the Board of Directors of CaNOE. In 2015-2016, she co-chaired the Conference Organizing Working Group to organize the 2nd CaNOE Ocean Literacy Conference in Halifax. This year, she hopes to use her experience in hands-on education to help steer an Education Working Group for CaNOE.