Classroom Visit with Silver Bluff Elementary
January 11, 2023
On Wednesday, January 11, 2023, The International SeaKeepers Society assisted Blue Scholars Initiative in facilitating in-classroom marine science lessons to three classes of English and Spanish-speaking fourth-grade students at Silver Bluff Elementary in Miami. Students received two lessons: the first discussing the complexities of marine food webs and the second exploring the dynamics of coastal watersheds.
Blue Scholars Initiative has been working with these students at Silver Bluff as a part of a four-part, hands-on curriculum that aims to engage students in marine biology, marine ecology, and watershed concepts while providing a better understanding of and connection to the marine ecosystem and the impact of human stresses. Toni Lohroff, SeaKeepers' Education Manager, joined Blue Scholars to facilitate part three of the series, where students participated in activities that simulate how humans interact with the complex dynamics of our marine systems.
The group got to learn about the hydrology of watersheds as well as the anthropogenic threats that watersheds face. These include plastic litter, marine debris, air and oil pollution, nutrient pollutants like fertilizers, and more from terrestrial sources like homes, businesses, and roadways. This pollution is carried by rain and flood water to canals, rivers, and bays, which can build up and lead to algal blooms and fish kills, which have been increasing in frequency and intensity in places like South Florida. Students also learned about marine food webs and how complex and fragile they often are. By identifying different types of marine producers and consumers, students were able to connect creatures together through predator-prey interactions. This way, they were also able to identify how the food web dynamics change when a new species is introduced or a previous species is taken out of the web, illustrating how our actions as humans can have a significant impact on the ecology of our oceans even if we can’t see it directly.
Through these activities, we aimed to assist Blue Scholars Initiative in educating students in Miami-Dade County about the impact their actions and choices have on the local and global marine environments. Additionally, students were able to learn about marine ecology, biology, and hydrology as pertinent to Biscayne Bay and beyond to provide context to how we interact with complex ocean systems.