Sea, Sun & Science 2013

OVERVIEW

Sea, Sun & Science: An Eco-Marine Experience was held for two weeks (Monday 5th to Friday 16th August, 2013) at the Buccoo Reef Trust’s office. Since its first instalment in 2002, this brainchild of the Trust targeted adolescents and young professionals with the aim of enticing them to become advocates for nature and more specifically the marine environment. This programme which strives to mix intellectual development with hands-on field experience has again enlightened and tried to mould impressionable minds.

The 2013 edition of Sea, Sun & Science was somewhat different to its predecessors. As predicted by lacklustre responses from the public, membership was at its lowest. This however did not put a damper on the activities provided. This small group was manageable, yet had the enthusiasm and team spirit exhibited by groups of yesteryear. Similarly, though funding was not as forthcoming, the Sea, Sun & Science management were still able to deliver an enjoyable experience to participants utilising the resources made available to them. 

Highlights from this year’s event abound as students delved into undertakings never before experienced. One highlight that may have topped the list is that of being incident free. This great feat has again been accomplished since parents and guardians entrust the Sea, Sun & Science facilitators with their charges.

Though the majority of the group were undecided about future careers (the average age being 14 years), at the conclusion of Sea, Sun & Science, a group of individuals became aware of the plethora of occupations within the environmental realm. They also were sensitised about the state of the environment and how their actions as well as that of the world at large have an impact on it.

PARTICIPANTS

This year’s Sea, Sun & Science saw a record low in participator turn out. The late release of funds was deemed the main factor that caused this sharp decline. Recruitment activities would have been dormant until allocations to support this venture were made. The interests of numerous parties were still evident as potential participants from both islands expressed their desire to attend. One week before the start of the programme, 17 persons were to take part. Eventually, due to various reasons beyond the Trust’s control, eight persons were unable to be present. Ultimately a small group which comprised of nine members formed the delegation for 2013’s Sea, Sun & Science experience. These participants were:

  • Monty Nehru Attz
  • Brandon Cumberbatch
  • Denique Cumberbatch
  • Chelci Destin
  • Jeniece Germain
  • Alvet Gordon
  • Nyamekye Martin
  • Michael Rodriquez
  • Venice Rodriquez

VOLUNTEERS

The assistance of two volunteers were sought to facilitate the daily activities of Sea, Sun & Science. Jayde Fraser and LaToyia Baker were on hand to help oversee participants as well as offer support in conducting numerous tasks. Some of their responsibilities included registering participants, conducting lecture sessions and taking photographs.

ACTIVITIES

Keeping with Sea, Sun & Science tradition, a balance was struck between lecture sessions and field exercises (see ‘Sea, Sun & Science Schedule of Events’ in the Appendix section). Careful attention was placed on learning in the classroom as topics were explored in an interactive manner. PowerPoint presentations were the mode of delivery and did not contain too many facts. This would ensure that students would not be overwhelmed by and be able to easily assimilate the information. The topics presented spanned a wide range of disciplines. Coral Reef Ecology, Integrated Watershed and Coastal Area Management, Mangal Forests and Fish Anatomy were some of the subject matters covered. Fisheries Management, which was to be conducted by the Department of Marine Resources and Fisheries, did not transpire due to conflicting schedules. Efforts were made to accommodate this lecture but they all proved futile.

As to not bore students with one particular teaching style, each lecture was led by a different tutor. Tutors were as follows:

Coral Reef Ecology and Taxonomy – Darion Fraser

Integrated Watershed and Coastal Area Management – Sandra Timothy

Mangal Ecosystems – Jayde Fraser

Fish Anatomy – LaToyia Baker

GPS Orientation – Cherece Wallace

SCUBA Discovery – Alvin Douglas

Turtle Biology – Tanya Clovis

To compound theoretical concepts, practical sessions were carried out in different locales. Snorkelling was used to give participants a closer look at polyp and coral reef structures, hands on experience to operate SCUBA gear was obtained through the introduction to SCUBA diving session and the dissection of different fish species aided in the understanding of fish physiology.

Students were implored to document important notes, observations and questions they may have. A journal was created for this purpose. To ensure that they paid attention to the wealth of knowledge given to them, points were allocated for journal entries and quizzes which tested their knowledge. The quizzes had two formats. ‘Quick Quizzes’ were given at random and were based on a previously taught topic. A game show-typed quiz which encompassed questions from all activities during the two week period was the other format used.

Field Trips

Students were able to enjoy a range of activities that demonstrated the facts they learned in the classroom segments. Practical sessions and their instructors included:

Snorkelling at Mt. Irvine Bay – Darion Fraser

Buccoo Reef Trip – Johnson’s Reef Tours

Seine Pulling – Roland Guillard

SCUBA Discovery – Alvin Douglas/Frontier Divers

Hike to Arnos Vale – Lyndon Glasgow

Sailing – Island Girl Cruises

Rain Forest Trek – Rupert Mc Kenna

Sea, Sun & Science Olympics

The Sea, Sun & Science Olympics were held on the Canoe Bay Resort compound. Though there were only two teams, the battle for the top spot was hotly contested. Points were allotted to the top three finishers. Materials and equipment were sourced from private entities as well as funding from the Buccoo Reef Trust. This enabled teams to compete in the following events:

  • Needle and Thread
  • Lime and Spoon
  • Three Legged Race
  • Drinking Race
  • Wheelbarrow Race
  • Balloon Race
  • Toilet Paper Race
  • Arithmetic Race
  • Blind Leading The Blind
  • Slip and Slide
  • Limited Overs Cricket

Environmental Explorers were the victors of this year’s Olympics. They mustered 62.5 points while their challengers Random First Thoughts, was only able to chart 35.5 points.

Sea, Sun & Science Award Ceremony

The Sea, Sun & Science Award Ceremony culminated two weeks of learning, fun and the formation of new friendships. A PowerPoint presentation narrated by Darion Fraser gave a brief review of the programme. It displayed photographs and videos that captured moments of the programme. Award categories were created and a select few were recognised for their ability to stand apart from their peers via their accomplishments. Categories and their respective winners are as follows:

Most Helpful – Alvet Gordon

Most Outstanding – Jeniece Germain

Mr. Congeniality – Brandon Cumberbatch

Miss Congeniality – Denique Cumberbatch

Most Mischievous – Venice Rodriguez

Team Spirit Award – Denique Cumberbatch

It is at this ceremony where the team with the most points overall was announced. Though trailing the Random First Thoughts team in the quiz segments and journal entries, Environmental Explorers were able to overcome their challengers after two weeks of tallying scores. They accumulated 91.8 points while Random First Thoughts collected 74.5 points. 

Physical and intellectual brawn wasn’t the only avenue for Sea, Sun & Science members to display their capabilities. Participants’ creative muscles were flexed as they had to produce two works of art that would be displayed at the award ceremony. A mural was a compulsory piece while a secondary item could have taken the form of a skit, song, dance, PowerPoint presentation or another similar medium. Subsequently, teams chose to portray their Sea, Sun & Science experience in the form of poems.

ISSUES

The 2013 edition did not experience any significant predicament that would have greatly impeded the progress of the programme. Some lecture sessions had to be reshuffled to accommodate their respective facilitators. This change was effected on behalf of the lecturers, as professional engagements would have occurred after dates were mutually agreed upon by all parties prior to the start of the programme. 

The supply of transportation from two divisions of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) was one that worked seamlessly. The Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment (DAMME), and the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport (DEYAS) alternated dates in which participants were conveyed to different locations. There was one snag which delayed the proceedings for one of the days. Due to the change in administrative personnel, the bus which was to be sent from the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport was not released on time. This however was rectified, although it caused the allotted time for the day’s events, namely the rain forest tour, to be cut short.

Though not affecting the entire membership, punctuality began to deteriorate in the second week of the programme. It is uncertain whether or not the physical demands of activities began to take its toll on participants at that time.  It was noted however that personal reasons attributed to tardiness on some occasions. 

RECOMMENDATION

In order to improve the success of the programme and enjoyment by all involved, the following recommendations could be implemented:

Advertising

School Presence: A buzz about the event could be created in secondary schools on the island. This could be done via fliers. Though the specifics and preparations for the event are not finalized, prospective attendees would be reminded to check various forms of media to receive updates.

Print Media: Advertisements in publications such as Tobago News and ‘Tobago Hotspots’ in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian detailing Sea, Sun & Science would target audiences from both islands. These avenues would improve the chances of the programme being spotted.

Broadcast Advertising: Playing commercials from loud speakers atop vehicles is a common yet effective advertising tool. This mobile medium travels to communities and informs its burgesses about numerous goings-on. 

Social Media: Using social media is a quick and cost-effective way of promoting Sea, Sun & Science. Facebook and Twitter are frequented by teenagers and young adults and even if they themselves are not interested in the programme, there is a probability that the information may be passed on to someone who might.

Increased Registration Fee

This would help offset some of the expenses that would be incurred by the Trust to host Sea, Sun & Science. Additionally, it may inadvertently segregate potential participants who would be significantly impacted by the programme from those whose interests may be lacklustre. 

Maintain Entry Age

Upholding the 15 to 25 years age limit for participants is imperative. It has been noticed that the knowledge imparted through lecture sessions in particular is not fully absorbed by participants who are under the stipulated age. 

Awards

The award segment which takes place during the Award Ceremony attempts to reward students who have made stellar impressions through various activities. Awards could be in the form of medals or even small trophies which could be decorated with official logos or images. In the event that this is not possible, careful consideration should be placed on issuing items that are age appropriate and of great use to recipients. 

Reinstitution of Essay

This would indicate those who have a genuine interest in environmental activities. This in turn would enable the coordinator(s) to rank potential participants and offer the most eligible a place in the programme.

Accommodation 

Participation in Sea, Sun & Science by Trinidadian residents is not an uncommon occurrence. Some effort should be made to find suitable accommodations for them. This would included finding lodgings that are in close proximity to the Buccoo Reef Trust office and affordably priced. This information would be valuable to prospective members and discounts may be achieved if there are sufficient numbers in Trinidadian arrivals.

Later Start Time

A 9:00am start to daily activities should be adequate to treat with the punctuality problem. Apart from activities that are intrinsically early such as seine pulling, lectures and other similar events which take place at the Buccoo Reef Trust office should have a later start time. Additionally, days that have been assigned field activities should be alternated with those of in-house affairs. This should help reduce fatigue among participants as well as give facilitators time to prepare for subsequent events.

ACKNOWLEDMENTS

Correspondence was sent to all organizations and individuals who assisted in the operation of the Sea, Sun & Science programme. These letters expressed the gratitude of the Buccoo Reef Trust for the valuable input of these contributors.    Letters were sent electronically to contacts that had e-mail addresses. Likewise, a hardcopy version was sent to those without the facility of electronic mail.

CONCLUSION

The Sea, Sun & Science: An Eco-Marine Experience was deemed a success. Though all resources that were afforded by its facilitators in the past were not readily available, a programme of quality was still conveyed. This resilience is also a testament to the Buccoo Reef Trust’s commitment to perpetuating its environmental efforts and by extension educating the receptive minds of future leaders.