A new marine science program that pairs gifted and talented primary school students with leading ocean researchers from The University of Western Australia has been launched at the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre in Watermans Bay.
The 10-week program provides Year 5 and 6 Primary Extension and Challenge (PEAC) students with the opportunity to explore marine science topics such as fish camouflage and ocean plastics.
“This generation will inherit the global challenges our oceans currently face and we’re equipping them to solve the complex problems of the future.”Dr James Hehre
The centre’s operations manager Dr James Hehre said the initiative highlighted the importance of exposing children to science topics at a young age.
“This generation will inherit the global challenges our oceans currently face, so by engaging them with critical science topics and giving them an essential toolkit early, we’re equipping them to solve the complex problems of the future,” Dr Hehre said.
“One of the most amazing things about the program is students having access to some of the best researchers UWA’s Oceans Institute has to offer.
“Researchers and scientists from a variety of marine science fields have volunteered their time to give these students access to cutting-edge research.”
Year 6 student Bridie, from Floreat Park Primary School, said she enjoyed learning about interesting topics during the program.
“We’ve been doing hands-on activities like painting fish to learn about how they stay camouflaged in the ocean,” she said.
“It was really eye-opening to see all the different materials and how plastic can be made from natural sources like seaweed."Bridie, Year 6
“The practical activity helped us understand why fish have their coloured stripes, spots and different patterns.”
Bridie said one of the most interesting experiences was watching a UWA marine scientist show students how to make biodegradable ocean plastic.
“It was really eye-opening to see all the different materials and how plastic can be made from natural sources like seaweed,” she said.
After successfully launching the program with a small group of primary school students, Dr Hehre would like to see the program expanded.
“It would be amazing to engage with community groups and high school students as we grow the program to reach a larger audience and focus on more marine science topics,” he said.