No More Disappearing Acts

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Throughout our international student art contest called the Science Without Borders® Challenge, I have the pleasure of communicating with participants, teachers, and parents from all around the world. Numerous individuals express gratitude for the contest and share how it has increased ocean …

Little Creatures with a Big Message: An Educator’s Guide

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Lately, you have been hearing from our partners at the University of Miami (UM) about their experiences processing and picking tiny foraminifera from sand samples that we collected on the Global Reef Expedition (GRE). As our colleagues continue to process the large quantity (2,500) of sand samples, we are creating an educator’s guide called “Little Creatures with a Big Message.”

Together, the University of Miami and the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to utilize microscopic organisms, called foraminifera (‘forams’ for short), to assess the state of coral reefs over the past 1,000 years, and potentially create new metrics that can be used to assess reef health.

NSF recognizes that a critical component to any research project is how it can benefit society. This is what NSF defines as the “Broader Impacts.” As a part of this grant, we will deliver on the broader impacts portion of the grant to educate and communicate this science to others. One of the ways will do this is by creating curriculum that improves STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and increases participation of minorities in STEM.

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!

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

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

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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

Meet the Interns: Joana Oliveira

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The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is hosting two interns this semester from the University of Ghent’s International Master of Science in Marine Biological Resources (IMBRSea) program. This international program focuses on marine resource management and conservation, and provides students with the opportunity to conduct a professional practice in their field.

One of our interns, Joana Oliveira, will be helping the Foundation create StoryMaps to showcase the coral reef maps and geo-referenced data we collected on the Global Reef Expedition. Learn more about Joana and what brought her to the Foundation below.

Shark tagging with our partners, Black Girls Dive Foundation

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“There’s a shark on the line!” The young ladies from Black Girls Dive Foundation (BGDF) squirmed with anticipation and giggled with excitement. As their chaperone, I could feel my own adrenaline surging as we watched the University of Miami (UM) team scurrying around at the back of the boat. The chaperones fitted the first four students with gloves and life vests. Then the students lined up in single file to begin their assigned individual and group tasks. It was time to get to work.

In December, I had the honor of being asked to join our partners at Black Girls Dive Foundation on a shark tagging expedition with the UM Professor Neil Hammerschlag’s Shark Research and Conservation team at Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmosphere Science. The trip is part of BGDF’s Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics with SCUBA (STREAMS) program, which is designed to introduce black girls between the ages of 9 and 17 to a multitude of activities. The Shark Research and Conservation Capstone is a component of the STREAMS program that teaches about the behavioral ecology and conservation of sharks. After completing a series of lecture and lab activities, this part of the program culminates with a field-intensive research expedition: shark tagging.