Sandy beach and clear sea at Seilebost on the isle of Harris in the Western isles of Scotland Helen Hotson

The ongoing success of Scotland's Marine Education Roadshow

2 minute read

Kirsty Crawford, MCS

Kirsty Crawford, Learning & Community Engagement Manager

12 Apr 2023

From DIY whale song, to showcasing marine careers on International Women's Day, we've been bringing the sea to schools across Scotland.

90% of Scotland’s population now live in urban areas and the number of children playing outdoors has halved in a generation.

This, along with the ongoing climate crisis, highlights the need for more ocean and climate literacy in classrooms, and access to coastal environments.

Thanks to the success of our Protecting Scotland's Seas education roadshow, which took place between October 2021 and September 2022, and the increase in demand for school visits across Scotland, we were pleased to receive an extension of funding from Crown Estate Scotland to help us reach even more young people through our ocean literacy roadshow.

The Protecting Scotland’s Seas roadshow is a marine-themed education experience featuring a selection of options tailored for schools and youth groups to engage with marine and outdoor environments.

Sessions cover topics such as biodiversity, special Scottish marine species, blue carbon, ocean acidification, and the health and wellbeing impacts of being near the ocean. The project also focusses on the issue of marine litter in Scotland and encourages schools and young people to support our Beachwatch citizen science project by surveying litter on local beaches.

Our 2022 Beachwatch report found an average of 160 items per 100 metres of beach surveyed. With plastic and polystyrene cups recorded on 58% of beaches, we've enjoyed including policy and advocacy lessons in our work, introducing pupils to the idea of a Circular Economy.

From 1st February – 31st March 2023 we had a busy time thanks to Crown Estate Scotland's support. We visited eight Scottish Local Council Authority areas to deliver 13 different events, connecting with nearly 600 young people, from nursery school pupils to university students.

Some highlights across Scotland this year have included:

A workshop for International Women’s Day with female secondary school pupils in East Renfrewshire.

This was a showcase for marine career pathways, the support network for routes to a career in environmental and marine science ,and to create a community of individuals who feel they are not alone.

Int Women's Day School Event, Scotland, Kirsty Crawford

Credit: Kirsty Crawford

Taking part in ‘Meet the Expert’ for British Science Week at Glasgow Science Centre, where we were quizzed by primary school pupils about the ocean.

Speaking to over 250 pupils invited from schools across Fife, Edinburgh and the Lothians at the Dynamic Earth STEM Marine Careers event. We hosted hands-on activities to highlight beach litter, plastic pollution and solutions plus Scottish marine biodiversity.

Dynamic Earth Pupil at MCS Stall

Credit: Kirsty Crawford

Working with musicians and Scottish orchestra members to create a special workshop series for schools in Perthshire on marine litter and biodiversity. The arts and science-linked series of events focussed on exploring the importance of marine mammals, how they communicate, and the journey of the humpback whale. We used recycled materials to create amazing whale instruments to compose whale song.

Using real-life examples of whale spectrograms, pupils mimicked the amazing communication song of humpback whales and performed a mini-concert for us.

Using our Beachwatch litter survey to clean up a stretch of beach in Prestwick, South Ayrshire with Kingcase Primary School. This class only has a few months left at primary school and wanted to use the findings and their experiences to raise awareness about litter and plastic pollution. We compared our results to last year’s and saw a 47% decrease in overall litter, but the amount of food packaging and sewage-debris remained the same.

Kingcase Primary - Prestwick Beach

Credit: Kirsty Crawford

A focus on our Source to Sea Litter Quest we hosted inland litter picks to highlight our message of ‘the sea starts here’ and enable pupils outside coastal areas to contribute to our citizen science survey work. At Oxgangs Primary School we identified local pathways where litter is bound for the sea, and used our litter timeline resource to talk about products made from plastic and how long these can last in the ocean.