Announcing our Educator’s Guide for the IMAX film, Ocean Odyssey

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One of the most spectacular mammals in the ocean, a humpback whale, emerges from the deep blue ocean to take a breath. Only seconds later, we see its calf surface too. This mother and calf pair are traveling from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia where, for the past couple of months, they have been taking shelter in protected coastal waters, while the calf grows bigger and stronger so it can endure the migration back to Antarctica. This is how Ocean Odyssey, an IMAX® giant screen film, begins unraveling this pairs remarkable journey that depicts how the ocean on life and land are intricately connected.

We started on our own Ocean Odyssey journey with K2 Studios, the film company who produced it. K2 studios specializes in making educational films for IMAX®, Giant Screen, and other specialty theaters located in museums, science centers, zoos, and aquariums around the world. Teachers who bring students on field trips to these educational centers hope to engage students in exploratory and impactful learning outside of the classroom. Often a part of this experience includes watching educational documentaries. When K2 Studios creates a film, they also aim to provide additional learning resources for students so that they can expand on educational experiences that they had on their field trip. That is where we come into the story…

Connecting Students to Nature

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The sun is blazing intensely in a cloudless sky, and the lack of a breeze makes the sulfur, rotten egg-like smell even more intense. It feels like 95°F (35°C) and I am sweating profusely as I trudge through the mangroves, one of my favorite marine ecosystems. It feels like home to me.

After two and a half years of putting the J.A.M.I.N. program on hold, I am quickly reminded how much I missed not only teaching and interacting with students face-to-face, but also being in the mangroves. The same feelings happen to me every time I venture into this amazing ecosystem: feelings of curiosity, awe, and respect, mixed with a sense of calm tranquility. And it is these same kinds of feelings we hope to foster in our students while they participate in our program…

2023 Science Without Borders® Q&A Session – November 30th

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Are you interested in participating in the 2023 Science Without Borders® Challenge, but you have questions about the contest? Are you unsure where to begin? Join us on November 30, 2022, 7 pm Eastern Time (ET) for the first of two Science Without Borders® Challenge Q&A sessions. On this Zoom call, we will go over the contest rules, how to enter the contest, more information about the theme, how to interpret the grading rubric, and provide tips for creating a beautiful and impactful piece of artwork that may help you to win the contest. At the same time, we will answer any questions that participants may have about the contest.

Time Out for Turtles – Part 2

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I meet my colleagues at Alligator Head Foundation (AHF) at 7am to gather materials that will help us to monitor sea turtle nests. Despite the early morning hour, there is a contagious enthusiasm in all who are going to search for sea turtle nests. We pile into two vehicles and drive to the beach.

We drive down a gravel road getting the first glimpse of the Jamaican turquoise blue water glimmering in the sunlight. Gathering our supplies, we walk across a wooden plank straddling a small ravine that leads to a small sandy beach in a quiet little cove, which is a perfect location for sea turtles to lay their eggs.

Francine Cousins, a conservation officer at Alligator Head Foundation looks for turtle tracks that could lead us to a nest. The weekend’s tides have washed away the evidence, so she grabs a thin rounded stick and looks for disturbed areas of sand. When she finds one, she gently begins poking her stick through the sand, feeling for areas where the sand easily gives way. She methodically and repeatedly pokes the sand until she strikes gold. She finds an area where the stick easily slides through the sand. Alligator Head Foundation’s employees, Floyd and Kymani anxiously, but carefully, begin removing the sand until a tiny round white egg, the size of a golf ball, appears…

Welcome, Saskia! KSLOF welcomes a master’s student to study our Mangrove Education & Restoration Program

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Six months ago, I was certain that I would be travelling to Indonesia to research mangrove crabs for my master’s thesis. The project was funded, and I was prepared to leave for Indonesia when suddenly, I received information that local fishermen could not catch enough crabs for me to conduct research. At such a late date, this was incredibly stressful news!

Around this time, I began to wonder if I could picture myself in the biological sciences or if I should make a step towards the field of social science. During my travels around the world, I was always interested (and often shocked) to observe the interaction between humans and nature. A few years ago, I travelled to southeast Asia to study whale shark populations. While studying these majestic creatures, I noticed the interactions occurring between tourists and the whale sharks. I had moments where I was frustrated, angry, and emotional, seeing whale sharks startle tourists who would fearfully kick and hit the whale sharks. Not only did I get angry at the tourists but at the local people working in this industry; however, after getting to know the locals and seeing their dismal economic situation, I began to think differently. I wanted to understand local people and their problems. I realized that in order to make a difference, you need to incorporate social sciences into environmental science, so that both can find a way to live in harmony.

We be J.A.M.I.N. Again!

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I see the twinkle of anticipation in my colleagues’ eyes as they hold up their phones waiting to record me filling my lungs to say, “Gooooood moooorning, Port Antonio High School!” My colleagues at Alligator Head Foundation beam and I grin back at them and wink. We have all waited two and a half years for this moment. This long-awaited welcome officially marks the start of the Jamaica Awareness of Mangroves in Nature (J.A.M.I.N.) and it feels good to be J.A.M.I.N. again.

The last time I was in Jamaica implementing J.A.M.I.N. was in early February 2020, before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. When the pandemic hit, none of us imagined that it would be years until we could implement the program again. It crushed me when we had to cancel the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year and then again, the following year. Now, we renew program again with more enthusiasm than ever.

Our partners at the Alligator Head Foundation and the University of the West Indies Discovery Bay Marine Lab are by my side aiding me in implementing the program. I couldn’t be more overjoyed to be working with them again. We fell right back into routine with each other as if no time had passed at all.

Back to School – New Resources Available!

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With so many of you starting the school year, we are delighted to share our new education resources and ongoing programs with you!

We have added two new educational units in our Coral Reef Ecology Curriculum – Food Webs and Conservation. Whether you are a student, teacher, or someone who is interested in the ocean, we invite you to learn more about these topics.

It’s estimated that 25% of all marine life spend some part of their life cycle on coral reefs. Learn about the complex feeding connections of the coral reef food web and how disruptions can threaten its stability.

This unit includes detailed background information to help learners understand the topic area, an engaging educational video with an accompanying worksheet, a five-part lesson plan that helps learners visualize food chains and food webs by building models, two Read It! worksheets that accompanies blogs written by our scientists, and an online quiz that assesses concepts learned throughout the unit.

Around the world ocean conservation efforts vary, but perhaps one of the most effective ways to protect the ocean is by establishing a Marine Protected Area (MPA). The path to creating an MPA is not always the same. In this unit, learn about the processes that can lead to the creation of an MPA, while also gaining a deeper knowledge of the disruptions to ecosystems, the ecological importance and ecosystem services the ocean provides, and the actions that we can take to conserve ecosystems.

The unit consists of background information, two engaging educational videos that have accompanying worksheets, four group activities that allows students to actively participate in the process of creating and managing an MPA, and a Read It! worksheet that incorporates English Language Arts into the classroom.

And if you missed the announcement, our 2023 Science Without Borders® Challenge is now open. The theme for this year’s contest is “The Sixth Extinction.” Now more than ever before in human history, the rate of extinction and species endangerment is accelerating due to harmful human activities. For this year’s contest, you can help create awareness about marine endangered species. We ask that you create a piece of artwork that highlights the beauty and importance of a marine species that is on the brink of extinction.

All entries must be received by Monday, March 6, 2023, to be eligible to win the contest.

To learn more about the Science Without Borders® Challenge rules and how to apply, visit www.lof.org/SWBChallenge.

We hope that you enjoy our new educational resources!

Coral Reefs in the South Pacific: A Webinar with SPREP

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The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation recently hosted a webinar with our partners at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP). SPREP is an organization established by the governments of Pacific Island nations to protect and manage the environment and natural resources of the Pacific. Their 21 member states (including many we studied on the Global Reef Expedition) work together to achieve healthy and resilient ecosystems and support sustainable development for Pacific communities. Our webinar with SPREP allowed us to share our research findings from the South Pacific directly with people who are actively working to conserve coral reefs and coastal marine ecosystems in the region. This is one of the many ways we are sharing our knowledge and findings from the Global Reef Expedition with the countries and communities in which we worked.

During the webinar, we were able to share information about the work the Foundation completed on the Expedition, including our extensive outreach and education initatives, as well as our scientific findings. We highlighted the programs our education team developed over the course of the Expedition, the many outreach events we held, and provided a comprehensive discussion of the results of our research in the South Pacific as well as our work in the Indian Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

At the end of the presentation, we were able to share our ongoing partnerships and upcoming projects, including our ongoing partnership with the University of Miami to develop a reef resilience model, our partnership with NASA to map the world’s reefs, as well as our numerous education programs such as the Mangrove Education & Restoration Program, Coral Reef Ecology Curriculum, and Science Without Borders® Challenge. Lastly, we shared information about our endorsed UN Ocean Decade Project, Science Without Borders®: Conserving the Tropics, which will use science, outreach, and education to engage local communities to protect their coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass meadows. This project will allow us to build off of our work on the Global Reef Expedition using a co-designed approach to further conservation of tropical coastal marine ecosystems, such as those in the South Pacific.

The webinar was attended by numerous government officials, marine managers, and stakeholders from throughout the South Pacific. Some of the attendees were people we had worked with on the Global Reef Expedition, but many were new and this webinar was a great introduction to the Foundation and our work. There was a great Q&A session at the end where we were able to discuss the findings and share more information about future partnerships.

As we take the work from the Global Reef Expedition to the next level, we are always looking to develop new partnerships to help bring the UN endorsed Science Without Borders® project to communities worldwide. Webinars like this, and partnering with SPREP, are important first steps in the implementation of the Science Without Borders® project and connect us with a network of people who are also working to protect, conserve, and restore ocean health.

EDUCATION NEWSLETTER: New Coral Reef Ecology Curriculum Units – Conservation

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Dear Educators,

In the last newsletter, we shared information about our new curriculum unit about food webs. As promised, we are thrilled to be able to share an important new unit with you about ocean conservation. This unit contains background information, two Watch It! worksheets, four comprehensive activities, and a Read It! worksheet. Please see the graphic for more detailed information about each.

Around the world ocean conservation efforts vary, but perhaps one of the most effective ways to protect the ocean is by establishing a Marine Protected Area (MPA). The path to creating an MPA is not always the same. The four activities in this unit (Lessons 1A-1D) illustrate one path that can lead to the creation of an MPA. In these activities, students will actively participate in the process of creating and managing an MPA. Students will not only learn about these processes, but they will also gain a deeper knowledge of the disruptions to ecosystems, the ecological importance and ecosystem services the ocean provides, and the actions that we can take to conserve ecosystems.

Although the activities in this unit are meant to be completed consecutively, as the knowledge builds upon the previous lesson, they can also be used as standalone activities. We also suggest that students work in a group when conducing these activities, but, of course, this may not meet the need of every student.

The Watch It! and Read It! worksheets in this unit aid in teaching the core concepts in Lessons 1A-1D. The Watch It! worksheets, which accompany two different videos about ocean conservation, are a great way to introduce more difficult concepts. In the video titled My Wish, Dr. Sylvia Earle, a world-renowned ocean conservationist, describes her “wish” for protecting the ocean. This video is a great introduction to Hope Spots, which will be presented in Lesson 1A: Explore a Hope Spot, and the scientist who initiated this global ocean conservation campaign, Dr. Sylvia Earle.

The second video, titled Our Living Oceans: Corals and Marine Protected Areas, is a great introduction to MPAs. Students will learn about MPAS and hear from leading experts what is working and what makes them effective. Although this video can be watched at any time, it is especially useful to watch the video before conducting Lesson 1C: Advocate for MPA where students advocate to a stakeholder or group of stakeholders to create an MPA.

The Read It! worksheet is a great way to incorporate English Language Arts into your science classes. The blog associated with this worksheet provides a great example of one method of Māori traditional conservation being conducted in the Cook Islands, located in the South Pacific. The blog is a great way to teach students about the importance of indigenous knowledge and traditional conservation methods.

For more suggestions about how to utilize the activities in this unit, login as an teacher to our Education Portal and download the lesson plans, which contain an overview of suggested ways to implement Lessons 1A-1D and step-by-step instructions on how to conduct each lesson.

Best of luck to you all as you begin your new academic year!

Amy Heemsoth
Director of Education