Program Enhances Underwater Education in Local Schools

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It's a field trip about the underwater world, but this time it's the teachers that are learning. It's part of a two-week summer program held by the Center for Water Quality at Florida A&M University.

One of the many goals is to enhance the instructors' experiences of coastal resources. "Our emphasize was to work with middle and high school teachers on working together to develop some curriculum and teaching materials to help them raise awareness with their students," said Katherine Milla, Ph.D., FAMU Center for Water Quality.

Many teachers say education about marine life isn't as strong as it could be and in return many students never get exposed to unique species. "They are totally spooked by anything that's beyond their realm of understanding. And a lot of our students are inner city kids and they've never even seen the Gulf of Mexico," said Mayfair Head, who's a science teacher at Leon High School.

At the Gulf Species Marine Lab teachers were able to take part in real life experiences with ocean creatures that they hope to bring to the classroom to complement their learning experience.

Teachers like Frank Druda hopes this knowledge will also help protect the environment. "When people understand things they know how to make intelligent decisions. If they do not know about it, anyone can they'll them anything they want and they'll believe them. And we can lose a whole species of creatures out there," said Druda.

By the end of these two weeks, organizers hope to design curriculum that can be accessed by the internet and used throughout the Big Bend. A total of 9 teachers are participating in this program, which is funded through a grant by the NOAA Coastal Services Center.

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