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Year 11 Marine Science students are learning vital field work skills, operating Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (ROVs) and securing their Recreational Marine Drivers Licences. 

Chad King, Science Teacher, says the Marine Science program promotes practical learning.

“We’re focusing on getting students to be more practical with their marine research skills,” he explains.

He and his students have criss-crossed Queensland’s coastline from Mooloolaba’s ‘Underwater World’ to the shores of Hastings Point, New South Wales, to observe ecosystems and collect data. 

They have even found practical ways to use the facilities of their urban campus. In August, students partnered with researchers from the Queensland University of Technology’s Institute for Future Environments, to trial ROVs at St Peters’ 50-metre pool. The researchers are studying how ROVs might be used by community groups in the Crown-Of-Thorns Starfish (COTS) control program.  

“There is only so much you can learn in a classroom,” Chad explains. “Obtaining their boat licence allows students to readily collect samples so that, if they do decide to study Marine Biology at university, they will already have one of their tickets.”

Under the instruction of the team at ‘Gold Coast Boat and Jet Ski Licensing’, they put their theory to the ultimate test. Graduating from a two-metre to a five-metre inflatable vessel with centre console, they rehearsed starting the engine, plotting a course, steering and capsize rescue. 

James Hill, Year 11 student at St Peters Indooroopilly, is no stranger to boating. He was taught by his father, a keen sailor, from a young age and, when he’s not traversing the open water in his family’s dinghy, he can be found fishing at Somerset Dam, across the Stanley River, from his uncle’s power boat.

James says, while he revelled in ‘letting loose’ in the tinny, the exam wasn’t without its hurdles. 

“For me, the greatest challenge was applying all of the marine rules we’d learned in class. I haven’t had too much experience boating in marine conditions or in a channel.”

“Another difficulty was recognising all of the signs and symbols you see out on the water,” James adds. “There are a lot of them and they are all important.”

Chad says he hopes the experience will stand students considering a future in the field in good stead but, moreover, that it will help keep all of his students safe on the water.

“I hope that our students can leave school with a boat licence, knowing how to behave on the water appropriately,” he says.