The Irish Whale and Dolphin Groups education and outreach programme were kick-started this year at the first international ocean education and training conference in Gent, Belgium. Hosted by Ghent University Museum and organised by Ghent University, Sorbonne Université, Universitá Politecnica Delle Marche and the Atlantic Technological University. The conference focused on five leading themes central to ocean education and science communication in the twenty-first century.
The conference brought together a diverse group of stakeholders such as marine biologists, educational programme coordinators, science communicators and non-academic persons, making this conference dynamic and innovative. A recurring comment among all conference participants and presenters was in order for ocean communications to work and societies to be ocean literate a pan disciplinary approach and collaboration is needed. Although, this can be tricky to pull off in reality it was refreshing to see that many of the attendees present were attempting to be cross-disciplinary when designing their curriculums.
Thematic sessions included international ocean education, education and training in the blue economy, blue digital learning resources, ocean science education for sustainable development and ocean literacy in a changing blue planet. Participants also got to learn from one another through various engaging workshops.
Sibéal Regan, our education and outreach officer, travelled to gent and presented on IWDG’s education programme, specifically our Floating Classroom initiative under ocean science education for sustainable development.
Floating classroom is a unique approach to ocean education and marine mammal surveying. Children are taken out of the classroom to join marine scientists and science communicators to explore the IWDG research vessel Celtic Mist.
A mixture of immersive, tactile workshops and resource packs for each school means that children can genuinely interact with and engage with the IWDG team and can continue their learning after we have left.
Sibéals presentation was well received at the conference and we are appreciative to be able to participate in such a well-run event and share IWDG’s knowledge and experience in the growing field of ocean literacy and Blue learning.