By Katie Dames
From May 15, 2018
Today the students of the USF Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation course took their classroom from the water to the kids. Students used the knowledge they learned throughout the course so far and presented it to the children of Soufriere’s primary school. Three classes of 5th graders got the chance to learn about the wonders of their island’s watershed and how the hydrosphere interacts with the geosphere.
The presentation went over the journey of water and how it travels through the watershed of St. Lucia. Beginning with what a watershed is, the students were given a chance to express their understanding of the importance of a watershed and how it affects them every day. Sedimentation, coral reef structure, and the affects of erosion were also covered in the presentation allowing the young students to really get a feel for what their surroundings consist of.
After the presentation, we facilitated an activity which was quite fun for all who participated! There were two activities, one portrayed the harmful affects of pollution and microplastics in the oceans, while the other demonstrated how the watershed functions on the steep volcanic island that is St. Lucia. Using a large bowl filled with water to represent the ocean for the first activity, students were given the task to fill the “ocean” with large pieces of litter, rocks, and dirt. Once added they were then told to remove as much as they could, even the small grains of sediment and plastic. As for the second activity, the students created their own version of the island using sand, rocks, and bottles filled with water to represent the rain in their own littler watershed.
It was so much fun being able to interact with the young, bright minds of Soufriere! They were so excited to learn and we were even more excited to teach them. It is a great honor to pass on such vital, interesting information to the next generation.
The authors of this blog are students enrolled in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation, field courses run in the Caribbean by the University of South Florida. During these courses, students learn scientific diving techniques over a 10-14 day period and carry out research and monitoring of coral reefs at various sites. Many of these courses are done in partnership with local environmental organizations, like the Union Island Environmental Alliance and the Soufriere Marine Management Association. In this blog, students will document their activities and how they relate to course material.