Marine Classroom brings aquatic environment alive for students

A marine adventure on the high seas isn’t your average school day. But for 63 high school students from the Mackay region, time spent on the water has been an educational highlight this year as part of the Mackay Marine Classroom Program.

The new program has been hailed a resounding success by the students and teachers involved, offering a way to deliver a meaningful and hands-on learning experience for young adults.

Funded by Reef Catchments and delivered on the ground by Wild Mob, the program has allowed 63 high school students from four different schools to reconnect with the marine environment and to build a real life understanding of science and ecology.

Teachers have agreed the fact the program is subsidised is a major benefit.

“The fact this trip was subsidised meant that every student could attend and it was within his or her budget. This was crucial in our decision to participate,” said Gerri Sticklan, Head of Social Science, North Mackay State High School.

Mr Ray Donohue, Social Science Teacher from Mackay North State High, said he had never had such positive feedback from students regarding an excursion.

“Every student found it rewarding and educational. Students were talking about the trip weeks later and were already asking if they could go again the next year.  Making assessment relevant and real life encouraged all the students… they had ownership of their learning and really valued that,” Mr Donohue said.

Schools participating in the program over the last 12 months included: Mackay North State High School, Sarina State High School, Mackay State High School and Pioneer State High School.

General Manager of Wild Mob, Andrew Elphinstone, said there was already a waiting list of schools lined up for the next 12 months of the program.

“The program does rely on funding to ensure it can be rolled out with minimal cost to the students. We are currently planning a sponsorship campaign to support even more schools in the coming year and would welcome expressions of interest from any businesses or organisations keen to be involved,” Mr Elphinstone said.

He said as well as providing a learning experience, the program also delivered important environmental outcomes.

“For example, in the past 12 months, students have removed over 650kg of weeds and more than 70kg of plastic this year from our fragile island ecosystems,” Mr Elphinstone said.