Photo: Ocean waves.

You Don’t Have To Like The Ocean To Appreciate It

I have a confession: I don’t like the ocean. It’s big, blue and scary and I have never liked it much. Growing up, the only beaches I went to were the ones found skirting friendly lakes and ponds. On the rare occasion that I was near the ocean, I refused to go in without water shoes. This quirk was cute when I was younger but I … Continue reading You Don’t Have To Like The Ocean To Appreciate It

Capitol Hill Ocean Week: An Intern’s Experience

As an intern in the Education Department, my work revolves almost exclusively around themes and concepts related to the ocean. Lately, I have been thinking about my personal connections to the ocean.

A Thought-Provoking Seminar on Capitol Hill
I recently attended two seminars at Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW)–June 5 through June 8–that allowed me to expand my thinking. Linwood Pendleton, Director of Ocean and Coastal Policy at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, led a seminar called “Oceans and Growth in America.” He explained that our relationship with the ocean is shaped by how we use it for extraction, such as harvesting of abalone in California during the late 1800s, and recreation, such as beach volleyball. The ocean has had, and continues to have, strong impacts on people along coasts, inspiring art and other forms of cultural expression.

Pendleton concluded by stating that growth without diversity will leave our coasts compromised, arguing that we need to move beyond the ocean’s economic uses, such as commercial fishing, in order to understand and appreciate its other values. It was this final point that has stuck with me since Linwood’s address.

Personal Reflection: A Childhood by the Sea
Linwood’s conclusion made me think about why I value the ocean and its resources and whether the reasons I value it fall under any of the categories about which he spoke–extraction, recreation, inspiration, etc.

Continue reading “Capitol Hill Ocean Week: An Intern’s Experience”

Ten Ocean Topics to Capture Your Kids!

Lori Roberts is a high school biology teacher in Muscle
Shoals, Alabama. Lori is a leader in ocean education and is a graduate
of National Geographic Education’s two-year professional development
program, the National Teacher Leadership Academy.

Kids can be easily distracted in a classroom environment; therefore, finding ways to motivate and involve them can become a major issue. When I introduce a new concept, I like to use a cool topic to capture the interest of my students. I recently asked each of my students to tell me what in the ocean they wanted to know more about.  Then I grouped and compiled their answers into the following list of ten. Hopefully you will find them helpful tools to “hook” students on learning about the ocean!

1.    Dolphins, Sea turtles and Sharks, Oh My!
Students love predators with personality. Dolphins, for example, are so smart that they have been trained by the Navy to “sniff” out mines and perform underwater surveillance. Sea turtles, one of my personal favorites, start out life on the beach in a dramatic fashion–with a precarious “race” to the ocean. Then, after struggling to survive those early days, they are rewarded by a very long life. And sharks, well… anything dangerous is fun to talk about! It is a well-known fact that kids love these big ocean animals.

2.    Bioluminescence
Isn’t it awesome that there are sea creatures that can produce their own light? How do they do it? Which ocean organisms can produce light? And just what is bioluminescence, anyway? To start, show students the TED talk by Dr. Edith Widder, in which she says that, “bioluminescence is the rule and not the exception in the ocean.” This would also be a good online research topic for your students. Give them a list of questions to seek out the answers to online (such as the three above), and then have them report back to their classmates.

3.    Fun Fact or Fantasy?
Giant squid actually exist–and we have proof. But what about sea serpents, sea dragons, and mermaids? Teach students the truth behind these myths, past and present (check out the oarfish–ancient people mistook these creatures for real sea serpents).

Continue reading “Ten Ocean Topics to Capture Your Kids!”

Blog-a-thon: Ocean Education

This blog submission comes from Mary Ford, Ocean Education Manager at National Geographic. To see more of Mary and the Ocean Team’s work, check out the National Geographic Ocean Education materials on our website by following this link. I’m the Ocean Education Manager at National Geographic and really interested in what people are teaching and learning about the ocean throughout the world.  So I decided … Continue reading Blog-a-thon: Ocean Education