January 19, 2016

One messageIf you had to choose one message that students would remember about the ocean, what would it be? The ocean is a unifying thread that can be pulled through any lesson in any subject at any grade level. Very broad, right?

How about ecosystems – organisms interact with each other and their environment. What’s the message? I’d want students to understand that we are all intricately connected. If you take away one organism or an appropriate environment, what happens to all the rest?

Let’s try physics – Understanding pressure, force, and motion gives us knowledge that we can use to invent or engineer. We can go to greater depths and explore a world that, at only 5%, we’ve only just begun to explore. The message? How about using scientific knowledge to expand our human capabilities and further our understanding of the natural world.

And human impact – We hear about global climate change and ocean acidification, pollution (plastics, chemical), overfishing, and coastal development. What’s the message? Yes, it’s negative and dire, but what message would I want my students to take away? I want them to have a clear understanding of what evidence is and the ability to explain it. Emotion and politics often cloud scientific evidence. So if my students could identify solid and valid evidence, interpret and understand it, and articulate its meaning, I would be very happy and I believe the world would be as well.

And to take it even a bit further, which I tend to do, what can each individual do? What action can they take? Even something that seems to be small adds up. Plastic bags when I go to the store? “No thanks. I don’t need a bag.” A straw with your drink? “Nope.” “I’ll only eat sustainable seafood (and maybe only if it’s locally harvested.)” Or, for a student to share their knowledge that is based on evidence they’ve gathered to help educate others about the ocean.

So, what is my one message? I’d want my students to know that they are connected to the ocean, regardless of where they live; that they understand the evidence of human impact and can explain it; and that they can do something about it. Ok, I guess that is three messages. Drill it down to one? Let’s care for the ocean and truly understand why we need to care for it.

One message

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