Last chance to apply to our student art competition, the Science Without Borders® Challenge!

Written by

There is still time to participate in our international student art competition, the Science Without Borders® Challenge!

The Challenge is an annual art competition that engages students to promote the need to preserve, protect, and restore the world’s oceans and aquatic resources. The contest is free to enter and open to middle and high school students 11-19 years old. Be sure to submit your artwork by March 6 for a chance to win up to $500 in prizes!

This year the Science Without Borders® Challenge theme is “The Sixth Extinction.” Human actions have negatively impacted the environment in many ways, which have led to an increased rate of extinction and many more endangered species. For this year’s contest, we are asking students to create a piece of artwork that highlights the beauty and importance of a marine species that is on the brink of extinction.

2023 Science Without Borders® Q&A Session

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 January 19th at 9 am Eastern Time (ET) for our Science Without Borders® Challenge Q&A Session!

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. This is a great opportunity for students and teachers to hear directly from the contest judges about what we are looking for.

The Sixth Extinction

Written by

Throughout the history of the planet, there has been an evolution and flux of species. From the first microorganisms found in the ocean billions of years ago, to the evolution of land-based plants, invertebrate and vertebrate animals, reptiles, mammals, and to the millions of species we now know of today. Historically, the earth has experienced five mass extinction events. These have been linked to some sort of natural disturbance where three-quarters of all species were lost over a short geological period. Glaciation events, volcanic eruptions, and asteroid impacts are theorized to be the cause of these five mass extinctions.

Recently, some scientists hypothesized that the earth is undergoing a sixth extinction event linked to the evolution of human civilization. This theory suggests that over the course of human history, people have caused the extinction of species on a massive scale. As humans became more civilized, we began altering the environment to fit our needs. We altered the land for agricultural uses; as our tools became more advanced, we were able to hunt more efficiently on land and in water; we built cities, and have extracted resources from the earth in ways never done before. These alterations and interactions with the environment have led to the loss of habitats, overexploitation of animals, and caused irreversible loss of the earth’s organisms.

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

Written by

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

Written by

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

Written by

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.

Back to School – New Resources Available!

Written by

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!

EDUCATION NEWSLETTER: New Coral Reef Ecology Curriculum Units – Conservation

Written by

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

Education Newsletter: New Coral Reef Ecology Curriculum Units – Food Webs

Written by

We are excited to announce that we have two new Coral Reef Ecology Curriculum units – Unit 16: Food Webs and Unit 22: Conservation. These two units can be a great resource to include in your science classes.

In the food webs unit, start off your class with an engaging short video about the coral reef food web and make sure to use the accompanying Watch It! worksheet. For students who are hearing impaired or need further assistance, you’ll notice that all our Watch It! worksheets now include video scripts.

Using the background information provided, teach your students about how matter is recycled and energy is transferred in the living parts of a coral reef ecosystem. Remember that there are images, graphics, and vocabulary in in the background information to help your students learn about these concepts.

To aid in solidifying food web concepts, conduct a hands-on activity called Lesson 1: Stringing it Together. Your students can explore the feeding relationships between organisms in a coral reef ecosystem and model how matter is cycled and energy flows through it. At the end of the lesson, students will also learn about disruptions that threaten the stability of the coral reef food web. Students will form a food web out string and determine what happens when the web is out of balance.

Incorporate English Language Arts into your science classes by using our custom Read It! worksheets that accompany our field blogs. Students will read and analyze a blog written by a scientist on one of our research expeditions. In Watch It! Sharks, Dr. Will Robbins discusses the predatory role of sharks in a coral reef food web and what recent studies have revealed in Australia. At the opposite end of the food chain, learn about producers by completing Watch It! Faces & Functions of Algae. Researcher Samantha Clements describes the role of algae or “seaweed” in the coral reef food web and how it can become detrimental to the ecosystem.

Finally, assess your students’ knowledge about food webs using our online quiz. After logging in, create a class and send the code to your students so that they can track your students’ quiz scores.

Stay tuned for more information about the Conservation unit.

Amy Heemsoth
Director of Education