A highly successful national programme, introducing oceans education to schools and contributed to by PML's Dr Helen Findlay, has been shortlisted for the Exeter Impact Award 2013.
Dr Findlay and long-standing colleague from the University of Exeter, Dr Ceri Lewis, teamed up with Digital Explorer (a non-profit organisation that pioneers educational expeditions) to provide free inspirational lesson plans and multi-media resources on ocean acidification and Arctic climate change to classrooms worldwide. The resulting education resources, based directly on their fieldwork in the Arctic, are now being used by 1,225 UK secondary schools (30% of secondary schools in the UK), reaching over 658,000 pupils within the first year of being launched. These school resources are also now being used internationally, including a training programme in Alaska and as ocean acidification outreach examples across Europe.
The production of the resources followed Helen and Ceri's research expeditions to the Canadian High Arctic as part of the Catlin Arctic Surveys where they investigated the impacts of ocean acidification.
The Catlin Arctic Survey involved scientists from a range of institutes camping on the sea-ice at extreme temperatures to collect their data. Helen and Arctic colleague Ceri worked closely with Digital Explorer to develop a schools education programme to raise awareness of ocean acidification and Arctic climate change as global issues to the scientists of tomorrow. The ‘DE Oceans’ Programme has produced a highly professional set of education resources, comprising booklets with over 50 lesson plans and over 60 activity sheets, and multimedia resources with over 30 videos and 200 photos for Key Stage 3 and GCSE Geography and Science. Video clips of the scientists at work in the Arctic plus maps and scientific diagrams are included to explain the science undertaken and provide insights into how scientists live and work in this extreme environment.
The Frozen Oceans resources won a prestigious ‘Silver award’ for best teaching resources from the Geographical Association this year and were finalists at the national Education Resource Awards 2012. Multiple downloads of the resources have been recorded internationally in Australia, the United States, Portugal and the Philippines and the online DE Oceans channel has received visitors from 85 countries. The resources are also being used in Portugal and Sweden by university educators as a case study on oceans education.
Dr Findlay acted as a scientific advisor for the packs, working alongside Digital Explorer to develop the knowledge, carry out interviews, write blogs and provide scientific information. The resources from Digital Explorer continue to work towards better ‘Oceans Literacy’ in UK classrooms via a recent response to the new National Curriculum and the development of further resources based on their research.