St Mary’s Parish Primary School, Williamstown is the oldest, continuously operating Catholic school in Victoria. For its 175th anniversary the school's teachers decided on a day out on Pelican1 as part of the Two Bays program. Initially it was to explore the coastlines around Williamstown, travel to the closest marine parks at Jawbone and Pt Cooke and get a sea country perspective to those that work in this Bayside school. But due to the enthusiasm of the teachers the day morphed into an exploration of Ocean Literacy and teaching methodologies.
The day was coordinated by Dominique Dybala, Science and Sustainability leader at St Marys, who has been very involved over the last 6 years in connecting young students to the Two Bays Ocean Literacy program. She invited our Marine Educator Harry Breidahl on board to share some ideas and helpful materials for developing marine-focussed curriculum.
The day included a journey up the Maribynong River as we navigated early squalls of wind. All the participants shared their significant sea stories as we warmed to the themes of how as young kids we begin the process of understanding and connecting to our watery world. This theme was deepened in an organic fashion during the day, particularly around the need to keep the inspiration of these formative experiences close to the heart as teachers to inspire younger students with meaningful connections in relation to science curriculum. The passionate connections are also important for both teachers and students as we navigate the deep problematic nature of climate change and attempt to keep a sustaining vision for difficult and complex times.
Sharron from the Port Phillip Eco Centre shared her methadologies for engaging young people in and with the environment, taking the teachers through a series of small workshops. Harry Breidahl talked about the concept of Ocean Literacy and gave the teachers a myriad of resources for beginning to structure classes around ocean themes. Some of these resources can be found here - such as Classification , Marine biodiversity, Passport to Marine Life and Aliens of the Deep.
Amidst all the talking and sharing there was time to actually jump in the water and explore the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary. It was not the warmest of days but the call of the water managed to convince at least half of us to jump in!
We even managed a sail home and on our return the teachers were delighted to recieve a gift from Harry as he gave them a box of Gould League marine curriculum materials plus three large boxes of marine specimens that he now no longer uses plus a pile of marine posters - all left over from the days when he and his wife Jane were far more active as marine teachers. Hopefully that will also help to inspire the teachers to continue their sea country explorations in and outside of the classroom. Thanks to all the participants and guests who really made the day out in sea country so wonderful.