Ocean key to boosting science participation

The allure of the ocean could be the missing ingredient to boosting young girls' participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, an Amerian academic told local high schoolers on Monday. 

Dr. Nevada Winrow, who has a doctorate in neuropsychology, presented the case for a change of thinking on rubbish to local school students on Monday as part of a U.S. Embassy speaker programme. 

" I’m very big on working with elementary, secondary, and post-secondary individuals just to help them be more mindful about how they’re utilising plastics and other starting debris and how it's impacting our oceans and that’s my key purpose for being here this week," she said.

Through a brief game with the students during the programme, Dr. Winrow revealed that the most common trash found in our oceans are cigarette butts and food wrappers but she said she was excited about the opportunity for change presented by Samoa's environmental policies. 

"Particularly with the development of new ocean policies and some of the strategic things that they have going on here in Samoa that I think is perfect timing, I couldn’t be even more ecstatic to be here in this time right now," she said. 

"We're actually meeting with some government officials as well, some NGOs, just to kind of hear what they have going on what their planning is, even if it’s just to see if it’s the kind of stuff we’re doing over in the States can be integrated even in the curriculum here.

Dr. Winrow hopes for deeper collaboration with Samoa in the future, to contribute to the Black Girls Dive Foundation, which promotes water safety, fun and education among African American children.

"[We're] seeing how we can contribute, how we can offer resources from my organisation and even if it’s just offering a curriculum that can be shared in the schools. 

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"We’re willing to share all of what we have."

Dr. Winrow is a Pediatric Neuropsychologist and Educator but says she fell in love with the ocean the day she put on her first snorkel set. 

And her introduction to SCUBA diving took her even farther down the path of ocean conservation. 

"My organisation is Black Girls Dive. What we do is we integrate ocean conservation with Science Technology Engineering and Math through ocean conservation.

"And we do that with groups of underrepresented youth who are female that are from underserved communities that are historically underrepresented in science."

The organisation works towards building the girls' "STEM identity" which starts from a very young age, she said.

"Very frequently, young girls kind of lose interest, either they feel like they’re being geeky, like nobody wants to hang out with the geeky girl and sometimes it’s difficult for them over in the States.

"Creating that space and opportunity for them to feel safe, and not feel judged about their interest, so that’s basically the foundation of my organisation. It’s giving them that safe space, giving them the opportunity to explore their STEM opportunities."

14-year-old Lonnysha Taua from Le Amosa School extended her gratitude to the presenters for the wake up call on the need for changing behaviour: 

" admire them and everything they said about knowing what you need to do and sticking to it," she said. "After this, I definitely know I want a career in science."

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