Natalie Walls from Dynamic Earth, presented the ATLAS outreach portfolio resources to delegates, highlighting the open-source nature and encouraging educators to visit the Education tab on the ATLAS website. She showed how the reef survey mat, ROV simulator, Quiver app and many other materials can be used in educational outreach. Natalie also showed how to access and use the resources within your own organisation. The presentation generated a lot of interest in both the outreach resources and the project as a whole, leading to several meaningful conversations in the following days.
For the first time this year the EMSEA board decided to have an Expo built into the conference schedule to give an opportunity for delegates to engage with the locals in the area. On Wednesday afternoon Expolab was opened up to the public and local primary school groups to visit and take part in activities designed and hosted by the delegates. Despite many of the delegates knowing little to no Portuguese, the first EMSEA Expo was a great success.
Based on the Expo, awards were given at the final conference dinner as chosen by both the delegates and the school children who attended. From four finalists (including representatives from Incredible Oceans, UK, and Oceanario de Lisboa, Portugal), Natalie from the ATLAS team won first prize for a combination of inventive engagement resources and skillful presentation. The EMSEA team commented that combining the classic engagement tools with new, exciting AR technology through the Quiver application was a very effective way to communicate the project and disseminate the information to public audiences in a fun, accessible way.
Children from a local school in São Miguel exploring AR colouring activity and learning about deep-sea animals with ATLAS Project Officer Natalie Walls. (c) Natalie Walls
While the conference was incredibly busy, the team found a bit of time to explore the island and discover why is it the ideal place to host an Ocean Literacy conference. Sustainable fishing and environmentally friendly tourism are both key industries in São Miguel and delegates were able to visit the organisations involved to demonstrate how it is possible to facilitate Blue Growth in a responsible way. There were also visits to geologically interesting sites around the island as well as beautiful lakes, inland mountains and a pineapple plantation, another of São Miguel’s important economies.
Overall the conference was an extremely valuable platform for disseminating the outreach portfolio around Europe. Many people said that they will look into using the resources within science centres, aquariums and other NGOs. At the conference the reef survey mat was gifted to Futurismo, one of the conference sponsors and a sustainable eco-tourism company that run whale watching trips around the island combining scientific research, education and tourism to promote responsible use and respect for the ocean. During the winter when boat trips are not running, the team go to local schools and communities to deliver educational outreach and they intend to use the floor mat and Quiver pages to enhance this programme.
For more information regarding EMSEA or the dissemination of the ATLAS Outreach Portfolio please contact Natalie Walls at firstname.lastname@example.org