Students participated in a variety of immersive STEM activities
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.
The students, who ranged from 8 to 19 years old, were split into different age groups to participate in a variety of immersive Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities on board the cruise line’s new ship. The experience included a guided tour of the firsts and favorites across Wonder’s eight neighborhoods, lunch in Solarium Bistro – one of the ship’s 40-plus restaurants, bars and lounges – and an original production put on by the cast on board. The student received a behind-the-scenes look at the engine control room and met with the Environmental Officer on board to understand how the advanced wastewater purification system treats water on board.
Bradrico Smith, 16, a student at C.V. Bethel Senior High who was in one of the tour groups, said he hopes to one day have a career in STEM and maybe work on a cruise ship. He said that since joining the STEM program, his specific interests have shifted slightly. “I want to do either aeronautics or engineering. I always liked engineering beforehand. But I like marine engineering more since starting STEM for Oceans,” said Smith.
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.
“We are thrilled to host the STEM for Oceans camp on board one of our ships for the first time as part of our Blue Green Promise efforts,” said Helen O’Connell, associate vice president, Community and Destination Engagement, Royal Caribbean Group. “It has been wonderful to see the students grow and learn during the camp, and we hope today’s visit inspires a continued passion for science, technology and, most importantly, protecting our oceans.”
Royal Caribbean sees STEM as a key driver for development
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.
“Royal Caribbean International and PADF both believe in the power of STEM as a key driver for development. We offer STEM education to enhance community engagement, foster innovative ideas, and identify concrete local solutions to reduce poverty and environmental impact,” said Sowmya Krishnamoorthy, Director of Partnerships and Sustainable Finance, PADF. “The STEM for Oceans initiative gives Bahamian students the opportunity to collaborate in groups and sharpen their communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. We are proud of our partnership with Royal Caribbean and hope to continue to serve youth in the Bahamas and Caribbean region through this initiative.”
The experience the students had on board allowed them to explore ocean STEM skills and build upon the intrinsic connection to oceans that many Bahamians have. It also provided a high-level overview of Royal Caribbean’s pledge to the environment. The cruise line is not only seeking to develop a net-zero carbon emissions cruise ship, but it is also committed to a path to net-zero emissions by 2050.
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.
In addition to the STEM for Oceans program, Royal Caribbean 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.