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OA’s “Hire Belize” mobile app wins PwC’s Belize Innovation Challenge

  Ocean Academy students earned first place in a fierce competition among 15 high schools to solve youth unemployment (25% among 14-25 year-olds in Belize). OA’s winning solution is “Hire Belize,” a mobile app designed and created by the students to connect youth with potential employers and customers. Judges were able to try out the app prototype on Android phones during the presentation. The prize package includes a mentoring partnership with Beltraide and $2000bz to take the prototype to the next stage of development for real-world applications. Each student also won a cash prize and the school won a laptop. Students finessed presentation and communication skills and really worked cohesively as a team. The competition was organized by PwC, Peacework and the Belize Ministry of Education. A big thanks to team mentors: Shola Babb of Belize Tourism Board, Sam Liu and Valbona Bushi of PwC, Ariel Samara and Heidi Curry of Ocean Academy. Channel 5 News reports the full story here:... read more

Business Plan for “Fish with Purpose” wins International School Enterprise Challenge

Ocean Academy Fly Fishing students won first place in North America and the Caribbean for their business plan submission to the School Enterprise Challenge. 1250 schools from 83 countries participated this year. Ocean Academy’s business idea is called “Fish with Purpose”. Students will sell hand-made flies, rent rods to visitors, and share their fishing knowledge about the island’s best spots, while also being eco-ambassadors for catch-and-release conservation. Profits will support student fees, stipends and the school scholarship fund. The School Enterprise Challenge is organized by Teach A Man To Fish, who provide entrepreneurship curriculum and support to schools worldwide. Certificate of Achievement and USD$1000 prize Aidan and Spenser’s fish chart Fly Fishing P.E. class Fly Fishing P.E. class: Daniel (with tarpon), Jonathan, Aidan, Spenser, Johnny and Kevin Fly Fishing P.E. class A perfect cast School motto Aidan making flies Students attend the Bonefish Tarpon Trust meeting... read more

“Most Creative and Innovative Project” at S.T.E.M. Visionaries Challenge

Team leader Buddy Magana created the mobile app prototype Mangrove restoration project   OA’s Environmental Club’s “Caye Caulker Mangrove Action Plan” addresses the problem of intense deforestation of mangroves due to coastal development. The students’ solution won “Most Innovative and Creative Project” for their use of interactive mobile app technology in addition to mangrove planting using the Riley technique. The Sagicor Visionaries Challenge is aimed at stimulating secondary school students to develop solutions to problems faced in their community using STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). This year’s competition saw the participation of 32 projects from 28 high schools across the country. Caye Caulker’s team included team leader Buddy, and members Patrick, Adrienne, Daya, Kenisha and science teacher Sarah Requena. “The first part of the plan involved educating the public about the importance of mangroves to the environment and the local economy. We then will work with the Village Council to understand the laws concerning mangroves and encourage a reforestation program whenever mangroves are removed. We would then experiment with different planting methods, such as the Riley technique, to determine the most effective techniques for our location. Finally, we would create an interactive smart phone app that will allow people to learn about mangroves, see pictures of our mangrove planting experiments and visit the sites on a trail walk using GPS coordinates. Visitors are invited to upload photographs of the growing plants to aid with our data collection and... read more

National Youth Award for Environmentalism

Belize Department of Youth Services awarded Ocean Academy the National Youth Award for Environmentalism. Aquatic Tourism students act as eco-ambassadors as they interpret the island’s ecosystems. The Environmental Club promotes beach cleanups and mangrove restoration projects, and the Gardening Club composts and sells culinary herbs. This is the ninth National Youth Award for Ocean Academy since 2009. Annual National Youth Awards Kayak with Purpose students promote protection of the seahorse colony Mangrove restoration project Culinary herb sales Campus beautification Accepting the award are Kevin, Spenser, Kyra, Whitley, Annabella and... read more

Aquatic Tourism Program wins UNICEF Beyond Sport in Education Award

OA’s Aquatic Tourism Program won the prestigious Beyond Sports 2014 Award in the category Sport for Education (sponsored by UNICEF). The Beyond Sport Awards celebrate and reward the best projects from around the world that use sport to bring about positive social change. Ocean Academy’s project was selected from 350 entries spanning 70 countries. School founders Joni Miller and Heidi Curry were invited to Johannesburg, South Africa October 28-30, 2014 for the Awards ceremony and they represented Belize on an international panel addressing the theme of how sports can inspire youth to become leaders in their communities. In addition to traditional high-school subjects, all Ocean Academy students select an elective and P.E. (physical education) class each semester. Students who select Aquatic Tourism are mentored by skilled tour guides and earn valuable certifications in kayaking, scuba diving, fly fishing or windsurfing, all at no cost thanks for strong partnerships with local tour operators. Workshops in entrepreneurship, marine biology, first aid, tour guiding, communication and leadership skills complement the P.E. program. Sandie Betz-Eisenberg says that “as soon as my son Spenser saw the video of the Aquatic Tourism classes he exclaimed, ‘That’s where I want to go to school!’ His marine biology and especially fly fishing classes have given him the opportunity to pursue his passion for the sea and to get credit for it at the same time. Ocean Academy has been instrumental in connecting Spenser with people who can help him to follow and live his dreams. I believe that we couldn’t ask for more than that, as that is what every parent wishes for their children”. Ocean Academy’s... read more

OA Fly Fishing Class wins Video Competition for Coastal Awareness Week

Sustainable coastal development is critical to protecting the mangrove flats and ecosystems that support the permit, tarpon and bonefish that fly fishermen love. Instructor Haywood Curry, student Johnny Cantun and classmates in the Ocean Academy Fishing Class made the winning video on the theme of sustainable coastal development for the CZMAI (Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute). Their video was shown as the culminating activity for the 2014 Belize Coastal Awareness... read more

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