Floating Classroom with Blue Scholars Initiative and Ludlam Elementary
Biscayne National Park Institute
Coconut Grove, Florida
March 28, 2023
On Tuesday, March 28th, 2023, The International SeaKeepers Society assisted Blue Scholars Initiative in delivering the final segment of their 4-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. In February, we visited Ludlam Elementary to discuss food web and watershed concepts in the classroom, and now the same students were able to see these concepts play out in the real world, on “Island C” near Dinner Key in the Biscayne Bay.
Students were split into 2 groups and swapped activities while on the island, one of the activities focused on the biodiversity found in seagrass habitats, and the other tested water quality. In the seagrass bed, students were walked out into the water with nets and learned how to safely sweep the seagrass for critters. We found juvenile checkered pufferfish, juvenile shrimps, juvenile upside-down jellyfish, an assortment of amphipods and isopods, juvenile seahorses, seahares, and a brittlestar. After finding all these different organisms, some of them were kept in an aerated tank as students discussed the ages, sizes, and colors, and learned about camouflage and seagrass’s unique role in the early lives of the marine organisms as an estuary. In addition to the biodiversity activity, students used EarthEcho kits to analyze the water’s dissolved oxygen content, temperature, turbidity, and pH level. After introducing students in the classroom to the various causes and effects of chemical and physical pollutants present in the Bay, they had the opportunity to see this in real life and from a scientific and experimental perspective.
We are in support of Blue Scholars Initiative’s education programs and had a blast assisting instruction aboard this floating classroom, and look forward to many more outings with more schools!
The goal of this floating classroom was two-fold: First, to educate elementary school students about the role of seagrass as a habitat, and its impact on the organisms that live in it as well as its larger interaction with the rest of Biscayne Bay as an ecosystem. Click here to review the Florida Science Standards covered by Blue Scholar Initiative's Marine Ecology area of focus. Second, to facilitate the investigation of water quality with elementary school students so that they have a better understanding of the parameters at which life in the Bay is sustained. Click here to review the Florida Science Standards covered by Blue Scholar Initiative's Marine Biology area of focus.