At my school, John Tonkin College, I teach and coordinate our Surf Science Specialist Program in which our years 7, 8 and 9 students learn about our marine environment through Science extension, Aquaculture, Outdoor Education and many local conservation projects such as the ‘Reel it in’ campaign and Black Bream and Mussel Habitat Restoration.
Surfing is a huge part of Outdoor Education in Surf Science as I believe it is not only an awesome sport, but it also encompasses many essential life skills such as commitment, resilience, compassion and camaraderie as well as instilling a powerful relationship with nature.
One of the biggest hurdles our students face when they begin the surfing program is a fear of sharks, so what better excuse to learn a little more about them and help our students feel safer in the water.
After hearing about Bruce’s Shark Mitigation project down in Esperance with his students and my personal love of SurfPaints, I decided to give it a go with my students at JTC.
I showed the kids a few of the current products on the market and explained how they worked. I then set them the task of further researching shark biology and behaviour.
They were given a surfboard template, a school logo and a little sentence starter worksheet for them to explain their choice of images/colours and write a paragraph about the scientific evidence that led to the creation of their designs.
We started the day inside the gym as it was FREEZING outside and set up a trestle table with all of the essentials (scrapers, steel wool, sandpaper, pencils, acrylic lacquer and of course a huge selection of SurfPaints!)
After a quick demo the kids began prepping the boards (there was a huge amount of sand and wax to clean up!) and pencilling on their work.
By the time they had finished the prep, the sun finally came out so we headed outside to the grass and began painting.
It was so cool to see students fully engaged and working so well together-some groups had 4 or 5 kids all drawing a different section of the same design at the same time! Some of them refused to have a recess and lunch break as they were so in the zone!
We wrapped it up at the end of the day, but a few of the kids wanted to stay behind after hours and add some finishing touches. Another hour and a half later, we were all done. There were some absolutely incredible designs, both scientifically as well as artistically.
The week after, we took our freshly painted boards down to Secret Harbour and the kids got to surf their very own designs for real.
One of my favourites was a gnarly-looking shark face so I couldn’t resist taking a couple of snaps of it in the water! All the designs are still looking fresh, even after another few sessions in the water since then.