On Monday, Dec. 5, Royal Caribbean International hosted students from three New Providence Island schools in The Bahamas as they explored the world’s newest wonder, Wonder of the Seas, as a part of the cruise line’s STEM for Oceans initiative.
Students representing Stapledon School, CV Bethel Akhepran and International Academy, who ranged from 8 to 19 years old, took part in a variety of immersive Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities at the STEM for Oceans camp over the weekend and received the royal treatment on board the world’s largest ships at sea. The experience involved a guided tour of the engine room which included a discussion with the Environmental Officer, Juliana Victoria Meintjes to understand how the advanced wastewater purification system treats water on board. The students also visited favorites across Wonder’s eight neighborhoods, such as the Bionic Bar for classic Shirley Temples, Solarium Bistro for lunch, and the Royal Theater to enjoy an original production by the cast on board.
Students join Minister of State for Education Zanell Lightbourne, to learn more about Wonder of the Seas’ engine room.
Environment Officer, Juliana Victoria Meintjes in the engine room of Wonder of the Seas.
Stancinique Hepburn, 14, a C.V. Bethel student, said she has always enjoyed mathematics and technology but STEM for Oceans has enhanced her interest. “It really got me interested and I’m glad I actually joined,” she said. Hepburn, who said she hopes to be a doctor one day, added, “My experience with the program has been iconic. I would do it over and over again.”
The STEM for Oceans program, which was established in partnership with the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), is part of Royal Caribbean’s Blue Green Promise to protect, inspire and empower sustainable ocean communities. The program aims to enhance local curriculums with regional ocean conservation topics during camps held after school or during the weekends. Attending students between the ages of 5 and 18 participate in hands-on STEM activities, like building robotic rovers and identifying ocean fauna. STEM for Oceans caters to vulnerable populations, including youth living with disabilities, youth from The Bahamas AIDS Foundation and teen student mothers.
Vaughn Miller, Minister of the Environment said there is an inextricable connection between environmental protection and the tourism industry in The Bahamas. “That is why cruise ships come to The Bahamas, because of our water [and] because our environment is very attractive. If we lose that edge, we lose the industry. We lose the business. And so, we’re very excited about this [STEM program] and very hopeful that they continue this for a long time.”
Royal Caribbean has maintained its commitment to The Bahamas, bringing several of the world’s largest ships to its shores for years and supporting numerous initiatives ranging from educational to cultural to philanthropic. Martha McFall, director of STEM for Oceans in Nassau, said the program has been important because they give students a heightened interest in sciences and math through a more modern approach.
“The [traditional] curriculum, I have heard from the students, is just too boring for them,” said McFall. “We are now in the technology age and more technology is coming at the students, but in the schools, things are remaining the same.”
The cruise line’s STEM for Oceans program was first offered in 2019 with the goal of providing public school students in The Bahamas with STEM-related learning opportunities in connection with the ocean. In addition to the program, Royal Caribbean International is also a major sponsor of the Bahamas Feeding Network, and the Music Makers Junkanoo group. Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley also sits on the steering committee of the Agricultural Development Organization.