This summer, 14 middle and high school teachers from 13 different Coastal Bend School Districts immersed themselves in an intensive training course in marine science. The three-day experience brought them face to face with tiny plankton to majestic endangered sea turtles. The goal of the course was to increase the teacher’s ability to use real scientific data in classroom activities that will help their students develop science-based, decision-making skills and prepare them to become thoughtful stewards of the marine environment.
The teachers participated in field experiences that enabled them to explore the functions, value, and beauty of local habitats – salt marshes, mangroves, and rivers. They were guided in their investigations by scientists from The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, Texas A&M University (Galveston and Corpus Christi), and Sea Grant who brought them up-to-speed on the latest research conducted and technologies employed in the Coastal Bend. The teachers learned how to access real scientific data online and apply these data in problem solving activities that are based on actual research.
One of the many field experiences included investigating water quality in the section of the Mission River that is influenced by tides. Knowledge regarding water quality changes in these tidal freshwater zones under different flow conditions can be used to make better decisions about the timing of municipal waste releases and fertilizer applications within coastal watersheds.
The teachers who participated in this training course gained new knowledge, resources, and activities that they will implement in their classes this school year and for many years to come. Each teacher will impact hundreds of school children from Texas coastal watershed counties, who are likely to be the next generation of coastal decision-makers and stewards.
This project is supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and received assistance from cooperating scientists: Dr. Ed Buskey, Dr. Amber Hardison, Dr. Jim McClelland, Tony Amos, Lalitha Asirvadam, and Claire Griffin from The University of Texas Marine Science Institute; Dr. Anna Armitage from Texas A&M University at Galveston; Audrey Douglas from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi; and Christine Hale from Texas Sea Grant.