This week, 15 science and math teachers from elementary, middle and high schools throughout Texas immersed themselves in an intensive training course in estuary ecology and Hurricane Harvey impacts to the environment. The three-day experience brought them face to face with tiny plankton to sea grass meadows. The goal of the free workshop was to help teachers’ access and use real scientific data in classroom activities that expose students to real-world problems.
The impact of Hurricane Harvey was felt far and wide in our region, including our schools and classrooms. Sharing the stories of resiliency, research and recovery in the Mission-Aransas Estuary was a great way to connect teachers and students to real-world science taking place in their own backyard.
The teachers participated in field experiences that enabled them to explore the functions, value, and beauty of local estuary habitats – salt marshes, wetlands and seagrass meadows. They were guided in their investigations by scientists from The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program who brought them up-to-speed on the latest research conducted and technologies employed in the Coastal Bend. The teachers also examined the impacts of the hurricane on freshwater inflow and seagrass habitats.
Teachers also took a cruise on the R/V Curt Johnson to explore estuary habitats and inhabitants, as well as collect water quality data. To maximize the learning experience for the teachers, we partnered with the Nueces Delta Preserve and the Oso Bay Wetland Preserve. While our 2018 cohort was modest in size, each teacher has the potential to reach nearly 150 students annually, for a total of 2,250 students. This number only increases as teachers continue to incorporate strategies and content into their curriculum.
The teachers who participated in the workshop received a stipend and classroom resources. Funding was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration by way of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve with support from the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program and the City of Corpus Christi’s Oso Bay Nature Preserve.