The Central Caribbean Marine Institute's latest educational initiative aims to inspire students to become stewards of the ocean, regardless of location or physical ability, by experiencing the wonders of life under the water's surface.
ReefsGoLive is a virtual underwater experience with marine scientists communicating in real-time with students in the classroom, living room or on a mobile device, through the use of full face masks worn by the diver and the ability to live stream from underwater.
"We now live in a world where information and media is available in real-time", said Tom Sparke, Education Manager at CCMI who developed this initiative. "Education needs to be tailored to connect with today's student. ReefsGoLive is an innovative tool that will engage with young students by taking them on a virtual dive with our marine scientists to unlock the secrets of Little Cayman's reefs. ReefsGoLive has the potential to change the way students interact with their pristine waters and aid in CCMI's mission to promote ocean literacy amongst young people."
The project has already been piloted with a live lionfish lesson delivered in real-time to a group of 25 students at Westwood High School in Massachusetts, USA. Teacher Mr. Michael Mao was keenly interested in the project: "The students in my class were very engaged in the lesson and indicated that it was more interesting than just watching a YouTube video", he explained. "They particularly liked the interaction with the scientists and the ability to get their questions answered immediately. It is a great way to expose students to field research and environmental issues."
"ReefsGoLive will make it possible to broadcast live underwater lessons right into any classroom that has a weblink, said Dr. Carrie Manfrino, CCMI President." The programme will help the CCMI to reach their long term goal for every child in the Cayman Islands to be ocean literate by the time they are 12 years old. Each year, CCMI offers scholarships for local school children to come over to the Little Cayman Research Centre, they host 10 local school programs, and their educators travel to Grand Cayman to teach part of their Young Environmental Leadership Course (YELC). "We have run out of space at the research centre during peak months for researchers and we have been looking for solutions. I am pleased that we will get closer to the grand vision of ocean literacy thanks to the ReefsGoLive project", she said.