By Sara Buckley
Here at CIEE Research Station Bonaire, our Spring 2016 students have been put through the ringer going from SCUBA newbies to SCUBA pros! Through our Advanced Scuba class we use the American Academy of Underwater Sciences curriculum and we take our students from Open Water to Rescue Divers while simultaneously preparing and training them to become scientific divers. The goal of our program is to increase their comfort underwater and to perfect their buoyancy, buddy communication, and fin kicking techniques while conducting research underwater. By the end of the dive program students emerge as competent scientific divers ready to conduct their own underwater research.
Our SCUBA “Boot Camp” went into full swing the first week our students arrived. We bring all of our students back to the basics by making them go through Open Water skills such as mask clearing, mask removal, regulator recovery, cramp removal, hovering, opening and closing their tanks, etc. during their four checkout dives to refresh and test their dive skills. After testing their skills the students go on 16 training dives before they are able to conduct their own Independent Research projects. These 16 dives consist of: buoyancy circuits, wreck dives, deep dives, night dives, rescue skills and scenarios, first aid and CPR, and other activities to help prepare our students for the world of scientific diving. Students hone in on their buoyancy, form and confidence to get them mentally and physically prepared to conduct their own research. All of the students have made giant strides in their diving techniques and are own their way to becoming excellent scientific divers!
Now that the Advanced SCUBA class has ended, our Spring 2016 students have officially graduated from their SCUBA “Boot Camp” and are now all certified Advanced Adventure Divers, Rescue Divers and DAN first aid and CPR providers. The students are now using their diving skills to collect data for their individual independent research projects.