OCEAN STUDIES CHARTER SCHOOL VISITS CRF™
Our mission at Coral Restoration Foundation™ has three main pillars: Science, Restoration, and Education. In "Heads Up" with the Coral Chronicles we focus on the efforts of our Education Program! One of the highlights of February was working with Ocean Studies Charter School.
Ocean Studies Charter School visits the CRF™ Exploration Center for a lesson on corals! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
Five of our Reef Restoration and Conservation Interns were able to teach their favorite edutainment workshop, Maritime Slime, to the students, ages ranging from 5-10. Education and community outreach serve a major role in the success of coral restoration. Spreading awareness about the state of our oceans and the widespread impacts that we face, should corals continue to degrade at the rate they are now, moves our mission forward by empowering our community, both local and global, to support healthy oceans.
Reaching the next generation of conservationists can lead to a sustainable future for coral reefs. Massive scale restoration is sustainable if we also see massive scale changes made to mitigate human influenced environmental stressors.
Ocean Studies Charter School students make their own "coral slime". ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
On Monday, CRF™ interns Joe, Jen, and Aidan led two groups of Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade students from Ocean Studies Charter School through an educational presentation before getting hands-on with our Maritime Slime activity. Later that week, on Thursday, Alexandra and Aubrey led the same Maritime Slime workshop with Ocean Studies Charter School’s fourth and fifth graders in the Manta Ray Classroom.
Our Maritime Slime workshop encourages the students to think more critically about the relationship between people, the sun, and coral reefs. Additionally, it has the potential to have lasting effects on the choices they make as ocean stewards now that they are now more aware of the effects humans can have on the environment.
Students were taught all about the importance of our coral reefs to the marine ecosystem, the current threats and stressors the corals are facing, and the tangible difference that restoration can make! They also learned about how CRF™ grows corals in our off shore nurseries by way of propagation, which directly relates to what they were learning in school about growing different terrestrial plants through propagation!
Students needed to make their slime similar to a corals including being stretchy enough to gather food! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
To lead the group into our hands on activity, we had a short interactive presentation about coral slime, relating it to the way that humans use mucus ourselves. The kids learned all about the different functions of the mucus such as accumulating and disposing of irritants and bacteria to keep the coral healthy, creating a sticky layer to capture food, protecting it from harmful UV rays and more! We then moved on to the most exciting part of the presentation, the Maritime Slime activity where the students paired up and got to make their own slime. Reinforcing the learning goals from the presentation, the students were challenged to make a slime that effectively replicated the way that coral mucus behaves. The slime had to be thin enough to “secrete from the coral”, thick enough to “protect coral from UV rays”, sticky enough to “collect Irritants”, and stretchy enough to “gather food”.
The classes thoroughly enjoyed their time at CRF™ and even got to see a manatee swimming in the canal outside of our Exploration Center! Reminding them of the natural beauty we aim to preserve.
Working with the children at Ocean Studies Charter School was an amazing experience for our intern team. Seeing such young students so interested in coral biology and the importance of coral reefs reminded them of the first time they realized they loved the ocean and reinvigorated their passion to restore coral reefs for the sake of future generations.
The students left with a love of corals and their slimy protective coat! ©Coral Restoration Foundation™
Alexandra Sapien found her love of ocean conservation through a volunteer trip to Madagascar where she had so many wonderful diving experiences with the team and became obsessed with coral restoration. The research institute she volunteered at did work with monitoring and implementing artificial reefs as well as monitoring the health of their reef. She immediately began a degree program, once back home, that focused on conservation efforts within all aspects. During her time in university, she worked as a bartender and bar manager in her hometown of phoenix, a place that can sometimes make diving scarce. She is so excited to be able to learn from the Coral Restoration Foundation as well as having diving available right outside her doorstep.
Joe Ducker was born in Bristol, England but grew up in China and the United States. He enjoys longboarding, skiing, camping, and volunteering. Coming from a family of divers, he has always had a love for the ocean and earned his first SCUBA certification at the age of 12. In May of 2021, he graduated from Stetson University with a degree in Digital Arts and Environmental Studies. While at Stetson he was the president of the SCUBA diving club and was able to explore many of the underwater wonders that Florida and the Caribbean Islands have to offer. After witnessing the devastation of reefs first-hand, he knew he wanted to be involved in preserving them however he could.
Inspired by great documentary films on ocean conservation, Joe created his own short documentary film about CRF™️. He did this as his senior project at Stetson to help spread awareness about the importance of coral conservation and restoration. While at CRF™️ he hopes to learn even more about coral conservation and is very excited to give back to the beautiful ocean that inspires him.
Coral Chronicles Editor
Madalen Howard is CRF's Marketing Associate. Madalen comes to CRF™ via a winding road from the Tennessee hills, to the South Carolina low country, ending here in Florida’s Coral Reef. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Marine Biology and a Minor in Environmental Studies from the College of Charleston in 2016. Her experience ranges from field research to education, and communications.
Madalen spent the last 4 years as a Field Instructor and Social Media Strategist for MarineLab Environmental Education Center. Here she was able to study and teach marine ecology, while snorkeling through mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs every day. While at MarineLab she combined her education and research background, entered the world of communications, and developed MarineLab’s social media department from the ground up.
Throughout her life Madalen has had a skill connecting people with nature. With CRF™, she is excited to bring people into the world of coral restoration, creating inclusive pathways to scientific discovery.