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Take a virtual school trip with the Ocean Conservation Trust

As most school trips remain off-limits, the Ocean Conservation Trust has launched downloadable lessons and virtual tours of the National Marine Aquarium…

Ocean conservation charity, the Ocean Conservation Trust – which also runs the much-loved National Marine Aquarium – to launch an exciting curriculum learning project

For 22 years, the Trust has been providing an exciting and engaging learning programme, using oceans as a hook for teachers to deliver all subjects of the curriculum. The programme is co-created with teachers and comprises sessions and workshops that support curriculum-based learning at all key stages and abilities. The aim is to help people become ocean literate and #ThinkOcean. 

A classroom session with children enjoying the Ocean Conservation Trust virtual visit

In September the Trust launched its first lesson. Teachers can download self-contained lessons featuring video and resources, which link to the primary science curriculum and use the ocean as a tool for exploring the curriculum. The lessons are totally accessible and easy for teachers to use and have been piloted through the Connect Academy Trust. 

Virtual tours 

In addition, the Trust is launching virtual tours, where visitors can virtually pass between the three distinct zones of the aquarium; the first covering local coasts and rockpool shallows and marine life that’s found slightly off shore; the second exhibits the inhabitants of the Atlantic Ocean, where some of the aquarium’s biggest animals live - such as the sharks and turtles; and the third region covering the tropical reefs - with familiar favourites Nemo and Dory – as well as follow up science activities, there are follow up art and literacy activities; all of which will be evaluated to see what learning has taken place. The tours will be given by marine biologists and scientists, working with trained teachers and youth workers who also have marine science qualifications.

The Trust is offering these virtual tours so that pupils all over the UK have the chance to learn about the ocean. Living in the UK, no one is ever further than 70 miles from sea, but these virtual guides and lessons mean distance is not an issue. Next year sees the start of the UN Decade of the ocean and the virtual tours and lesson plans are aimed to get the UK off to flying start. Alongside the tour, activities and lesson plans are offered as a package bundle giving users up to 2- or 3-days’ worth of activities and homework. 

A classroom session with children enjoying the Ocean Conservation Trust virtual visit

The virtual tours are bespoke – and the National Marine Aquarium is the only aquarium in the world offering this – where one class or potentially two will be taken on an hour and a half virtual tour, which is the same length as an in-person tour. The class will be taken around the aquarium, work interactively and the children will have the opportunity to ask questions as if they were really in the aquarium. 

Ocean Conservation Trust supports an interesting curriculum

The Ocean Conservation Trust is not only concerned with general conservation – the charity wants to help educate and is aware that teachers are looking for things to support them in the classroom; how to make the curriculum interesting – particularly over the coming months when travel and school trips will be limited.

Nicola Bridge, Head of Conservation Education and Communications for the charity, said: “Despite the ocean representing the largest living space on the planet and being essential for the survival of all of us, it has traditionally been overlooked in the National Curriculum, which is something we, as an ocean conservation charity, feel strongly needs to change and we want to encourage active learning. 

“Despite some of the continued Covid-related restrictions we are all under, our virtual tours and downloadable lessons will help teachers and pupils get access to valuable resources and interactive activities, and won’t have to put Ocean learning on hold.”