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Excellent education trip to Skye!
Excellent education trip to Skye!

Excellent education trip to Skye!

Last week, Silurian travelled around Skye inviting local primary schools on board for floating classroom sessions. Despite the occasional flurry of snow, pupils and the HWDT team had a wonderful week. Summing up her visit on board Mairi, a pupil from Broadford Primary said: “Today I enjoyed everything, learning about the boat and meeting everyone. I loved it here and when I am sixteen I hopefully will be here for a while. Thank you for sharing this great experience.”

Supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and the Robertson Trust, the floating classroom aims to inspire students, spark interest in the marine environment and, inform the decision-makers of the future. Over the week, 159 pupils, from 10 different primary schools across Skye, Raasay and Kyle of Lochalsh joined the team on board, getting a glimpse into the life of marine scientists. The interactive workshops on board Silurian involved activities and learning, covering a variety of topics for a wide range of ages. One teacher from Kyle Primary School described the visit as “A great opportunity for the children, with well-pitched activities – both listening and practical activities”.

This floating classroom provided an excellent opportunity for local pupils to discover more about the rich marine environment around them, and to take their education outside the classroom. Whilst on board, pupils learnt about the importance of both visual and acoustic surveys. Tabitha, a pupil from Raasay Primary said “I thought the best bit was learning about what sounds whales and dolphins make”. Up on deck, pupils practiced carrying out visual surveys for cetaceans and using binoculars whilst also learning how to identify common species found locally. One P6 pupil from Kyleakin Primary said ‘I enjoyed finding out about the whales and dolphins in our seas around Skye’. Based in a global hotspot for cetaceans, the team heard first hand from pupils, about the incredible sightings that they had witnessed. Cementing the importance of these sessions for encouraging interaction with our marine environment and fostering a sense of stewardship.

Alongside our marine mammal education, the workshops provided an insight into life on board a research vessel. Whilst aboard pupils explored the yacht; tried out the bunks, searched for chocolate biscuits in the galley, hoisted the sails and had a go at the helm. One P3 from Kyleakin Primary said his favourite part was pretending to be the captain!

Children were not the only people who got to visit Silurian during the week. Whilst based in Armadale, Kyle of Lochalsh and Portree, we opened our doors (hatch!) to the public, hosting three well attended Open Boat events. The Open Boats aim to engage local communities with their marine environment and develop active participation in marine science. The Open Boat in Armadale was supported by Sleat Community Trust, and despite a cold wait on the pier for a space on the RIB the turnout was impressive. Over these three events over 130 visitors came along to explore the deck, the living quarters for both the crew and volunteers, and talk to Trust employees. Many people went away with membership leaflets and we hope they choose to become part of the HWDT family.

On Saturday we were joined by RSPB’s Skyelarks for a morning of activities exploring Silurian. With 8 children, along with their parents this was a lovely event to round off our Hebridean Marine Explorers Week. Thanks to all the schools and communities involved during the week, to our funders and to the dedicated team of staff and volunteers that helped make the week such a success.