Meghan Marrero, Ed.D., professor of secondary science education and co-director of the Mercy College Center for STEM Education, was invited to speak at the Ocean Literacy Dialogues event in Santos, Brazil because of her role as the U.S. national coordinator of the All-Atlantic Blue Schools Network.
The week-long event brought together a diverse audience to discuss ocean science, technology, innovation and sustainability. The first of its kind in the southern hemisphere, the event was planned by UNESCO, the Universidade Federal de São Paulo’s Maré de Ciência program and the city of Santos as part of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
“There was such a diversity of perspectives,” said Marrero. “I’ve never been to another event where you could speak with an indigenous fisher, the mayor of a local city, an elementary school teacher, a college professor and a scientist who are all looking at the ocean as a resource. Having all those stakeholders at the same event is really unique.”
Marrero presented on three panels, including the kickoff event at which she spoke about the history of ocean literacy. Ocean literacy is a movement that began in the United States to ensure that students learn about the ocean in school. “Science standards were very land-focused, and people weren’t learning enough about the ocean,” said Marrero. “That leads to a society that doesn’t know how important the ocean is.” Over time, ocean literacy work has broadened to involve a much larger audience.
Marrero returned to Mercy with new insights and new connections that will benefit her students in the School of Education — and ultimately their future K-12 students. She teaches an oceanography class for pre-service science teachers on incorporating ocean literacy into their instruction. In addition, she is still an active marine educator as well as a past president of the National Marine Educators Association. Earlier this year, for example, she led a project funded by the Cornell Water Resources Institute to expose school-age students, from Westchester, the Bronx and Brooklyn, to local ocean resources — a project that involved some of the Mercy College Center for STEM Education partner schools.
Marrero travels internationally on a regular basis to promote STEM and marine education. In 2018, she spent a semester in Dublin, Ireland as a Fulbright Scholar supporting early childhood STEM education, and in 2019, she spoke at the Asia Marine Educators Association conference in Qingdao, China. Her trip to Brazil will hopefully be one of many more opportunities to connect with, support and learn from colleagues in the marine education community across the world.