• Photo courtesy Jill Heinerth
    With students from Villanova and St. Michael's schools in Conception Bay South and Bell Island. (Photo courtesy Jill Heinerth)

The Bell Island, Newfoundland Minequest has been named The Royal Canadian Geographical Society's Expedition of the Year. It is one of seven expeditions that have received funding from the RCGS in 2016. Follow the RCGS on Twitter for updates from all of this year's exciting expeditions.

The team traveled to Villa Nova School in Conception Bay South and had an assembly with the sixth grade students. We brought lots of cave diving equipment and shared some of the results of the expedition thus far. Neal Pollock enthralled the kids with pictures of a beating heart from his ultrasound results. It seemed as though every kid had great questions including specific queries about our diving technology, scary encounters as well as a keen interest in whether we had dived with sharks.

The entire school gathered in the gymnasium for our afternoon presentation. The school AV Club and Radio Club did an impressive job setting up the equipment and running a professional show. They recorded the presentation for local radio. After a few questions, we invited the kids forward to the stage to touch and feel the gear and ask more questions. That informal session was very rewarding. I could see the recognition from many of the kids that they could do something incredible with their own lives.

Gemma Smith demonstrated the rebreather to a large group of kids who were full of questions. Daniel Rees, a young maritime archaeologist from Conception Bay South was a shining role model of achievement for the kids. He answered questions about archaeology and about how to get into university.

More than anything, I think the Bell Island kids left our presentation with a new sense of place and pride in their community. We extended our thanks to them for hosting us in such a remarkable place.

With students from Villanova and St. Michael's schools in Conception Bay South and Bell Island. (Photo courtesy Jill Heinerth)

Read more of Jill Heinerth's earlier dispatches from Bell Island.