Last week we interviewed Caroline Stewart, teacher at Lamlash primary school, on how Arran school children and teachers benefit from COAST. We also asked her about her vision of what our Marine Discovery centre could be like.
What do you see as the main benefits of having COAST on your doorstep, as a teacher and for the pupils?
The pupils in Arran schools are so fortunate to live in such a wonderful environment and to have the expertise of an organisation like COAST. Manuela and Jenny help us to access the marine environment in a way we otherwise wouldn’t. We can teach about our marine life and marine issues through the Curriculum for Excellence, but having people with specialist knowledge enables us to do this so much better.
The children love the outreach work COAST has delivered. Our beach explorations have really engaged the children and encouraged their desire to learn more. They love finding things on the beach and asking questions, and it’s great to have the enthusiasm and expertise of Manuela and Jenny. Anything which nurtures long term interest and fosters enthusiasm for the environment will be beneficial to that environment and to the children as they grow up. Working alongside COAST does this so well.
What kind of things do you imagine/hope for happening in the marine discovery centre?
It would be great to have a classroom meeting area in the building, a place where prep can be done before our beach explorations, such as watching a video or delivering a talk, and also sometimes to be sheltered from the weather.
I think an area with ‘touchy feely’ pools would be fantastic. Children are always attracted to hands on experience which really promotes learning and is often the thing they remember most.
Another idea would be a virtual reality section. I have seen this kind of thing before, where children put on a headset and are transported into another world, in this case below the sea, a kind of virtual dive. There is also augmented reality, which is accessed with an app on your phone and you point the Smartphone at something and immediately get information about it. Children love using technology!
It would also be good to have some children’s art work in the hub and possibly their stories /poems. There’s lots of scope. The idea of our gardening club working on planting around the centre would also be interesting and the children could come up with ideas for that. A club for youngsters to attend would be very popular, with the opportunity to gain some kind of awards for the work they do.
How do you think schools would like to be involved? In planning ideas? Having the children involved with planning ideas would help them to feel part of things. With initial input from the COAST team, they will come up with lots of ideas, I’m sure. They often come up with random ideas which are potentially wonderful, ideas adults may not think of.
It was great to see how enthusiastic Caroline was about the link between Arran schools and COAST. She clearly values the opportunity and left us in no doubt about the part COAST plays in enhancing the educational experiences of our children. Of course the Marine Discovery Centre is a long term project but we look forward to working in partnership with teachers and pupils to realise both our and their ambitions for its future. Exciting times ahead!
Thank you Caroline.
Ann Hume, COAST volunteer and COAST Community Advisory Panel member