Category Archives: Early learning

Have Tank will Travel

Usually our sea animals bask in the 5 star luxury of their home tanks on the Sunshine Coast, where everything is carefully monitored to create an optimum environment, but when they hit the road to educate our next generation of ocean lovers, things get a little more tricky.

Our touch tanks are a home away from home for our animal ambassadors and we work hard to ensure things are as stress free as possible while they play a vital role in helping children understand and appreciate the aquatic world.

They travel all over Brisbane and the rest of South East Queensland, visiting early learning centres, schools and shopping centres, giving youngsters the opportunity to get up close and personal with these exotic creatures.

Under careful supervision, children are able to gently interact with our sea stars, sea cucumbers and spiny urchins, using our one finger touch policy that ensures our animals remain relatively undisturbed while cocooned in their cases.

To protect both animal and young enthusiast, our baby sharks are carefully contained in see through containers which allow for thorough inspection without causing damage.

Likewise, the colourful tropical sea cucumbers have such delicate feeding tentacles, they need to be kept clear of probing fingers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9VrClr6maY

But the fresh water turtles are only too willing to subject themselves to some soothing shell massage, all in the name of fostering a greater human/animal relationship.

We limit the amount of time our animal ambassadors spend away from their homes, rotating our starfish, cucumbers, urchins, sharks and turtles to make sure they are well rested and fed before embarking on their next mission to help save the oceans.

 

Early Learning Centres now environmental guardians

rich cowardAt Ocean Life Education, we have been fortunate over the past ten years to have been invited into many early learning centres across South East Queensland and Northern NSW. It is with great appreciation, relief and admiration to acknowledge that our young leaders of tomorrow seem to be heading in the right direction in regards to environmental awareness and its protection.

We have seen a gradual and methodical increase in centres culture of understanding and education of children about the importance of caring for the environment. We have witnessed a marked increase of recycling efforts; most centres today are actively recycling and not just one bin for waste and one bin recyclables – we are seeing four and five bins, a bin for paper, metal, plastic, glass and food leftovers for compost. With these separation bins in place children are participating in day to day life where more care and attention is given to waste and discarded food, they are learning to live a lifestyle of caring. They are informed why rubbish is separated, how it helps the environment and what’s great is, they get it.

Environmentalism doesn’t stop at recycling, more often than not we are seeing signs above sinks in bathrooms and outdoors explaining how precious water is and to only use the amount you need. This isn’t just for the children. We have also seen similar signs in the adult washrooms. Environmental education is a wholistic approach, where teachers and leaders are practicing what they preach, and changing their own behaviours.

The number of centres with veggie gardens also seems to be on the increase. Children learn to care and nurture the vegetables they are growing, and once harvest time comes they celebrate with a naturally-grown garden feast. We know primary schools have been doing this for a while but to see it incorporated in early learning is fantastic.

At Ocean Life Education, would like to think we are helping to play our part in this wonderful enlightenment of children with our live marine animal incursions, and we believe this is apparent.

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Jason sharing our turtle story with children

As part of our program, we include a Turtle hand puppet story about the plight of marine animals like turtles that come into contact with plastic rubbish pollution. It is hard hitting and sad, which we make no apology for, as children remember the message. We have had teachers inform us that students told off siblings for leaving rubbish at the beach as it can harm sea turtles and promptly made them pick it up. This story is not a one off, which makes us proud.

So a big thumbs up to early learning educators. Keep up the good work, environmental education isn’t a fad – it’s forever!

Richard Coward