Empowering communities with environmental education opportunities such as the NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training program and citizen science can result in powerful learning outcomes that promote conservation and stewardship, informed advocacy, and science literacy. These learning outcomes formed the purpose of the Port Townsend Marine Science Center's Ocean Acidification Study through Systems and Inquiry Science (OASSIS) Project, which implemented a twelve-class, hands-on Ocean Acidification curriculum within a Chimacum High School AP Environmental Science classroom.
We adapted the curriculum for this project from the Baliga Lab at Institute of Systems Biology Ocean Acidification module (Systems Education Experiences). Unit lessons encompassed ecological networks, Ocean Acidification chemistry and sources of CO2, the scientific method and experimental design, and citizen science.
|Figure 1. An adult geoduck (Panopea generosa), the world’s |
largest burrowing clam, responds enthusiastically to being
handled. Taylor Shellfish raises and sells geoduck and
|(B) After digging the hole, students sorted the|
clams from the hole by species.
|Figure 2 (A) Students learn about |
measuring local water quality parameters.
Planning, Executing, and Presenting Cohesive Experiments
At the end of the OASSIS unit, students further investigated a component of Ocean Acidification of interest to them through research experiments. Project topics ranged from testing the combustive effects of various carbon sources (coal, wood, paper) on the pH of water (Figure 3) to comparing the dissolution of shells at varied pH levels. Students used Vernier LabQuest2s, which allowed them to collect data in real-time. The OASSIS unit culminated with a summit, at which students presented a scientific-style poster on either their research project or another significant unit component (Figure 4). Preparation for the summit fostered critical-thinking and a formal reflection of experiences; presenting the posters enabled students to communicate and share their knowledge of Ocean Acidification with their peers and broader community.
|Figure 4. At the summit, Sean and Feam shared their results of|
their shell dissolution project.
The most meaningful part of this experience, though, was not personal. Rather, it was hearing students’ personal accounts of knowledge gained and inspiration piqued. Some students did not know how the impacts of Ocean Acidification encompass their everyday lives, and others now have deep interest in pursuing environmental science as a major in college.
Seven years ago, I had my first field-based marine science experience, Ocean For Life (OFL) which was also sponsored by NOAA. Upon competing OFL, I distinctly remember feeling intellectually and emotionally enriched. I sincerely wish these students too are able to capture and culture this same eternal wonder for our ocean.
ZOFIA KNOREK is the Citizen Science Educator and an AmeriCorps Member at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center