By SDCN Editor
National City, CA–A new science program created by educators and businesses will allow San Diego students an opportunity to explore the ocean and its sea life.
Seaport Climate Science Program, a one-of-a-kind pilot program, is a partnership between Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, San Diego Unified School District, and Seaport San Diego. The program was established as a proof-of-concept to inform the design of the future permanent facility at Seaport San Diego.
Local educators and business leaders took a tour of the Seaport Climate Science Program. During the tour, Port of San Diego Vice Chair Sandy Naranjo, San Diego Unified Trustee Richard Barrera, and other leaders learned more about the program, which engages middle school students in hands-on, climate science-focused field trips. Approximately 70 seventh-grade students from Pacific Beach Middle School participated in the tour, rotating among STEM learning stations aboard a research-equipped vessel that launched from Pepper Park in National City.
“Seaport San Diego is a proposal to revitalize an important part of the San Diego Bayfront thoughtfully and boldly for the next century, and the Learning Center is a cornerstone of our vision for connecting students and adult learners throughout California with the ocean in a meaningful way,” said Seaport San Diego developer Yehudi “Gaf” Gaffen, CEO of 1HWY1. “We are honored to have the partnership of San Diego Unified School District and Birch Aquarium at Scripps as we embark on the design of our Learning Center. I’m delighted to see how the Seaport Climate Science Program is already inspiring young minds and look forward to having a permanent center for ocean-centered learning at Seaport San Diego.
Guided by educators from Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the students dissected lancetfish stomachs and examined the contents for clues about the ocean ecosystem. They used echosounder technology to monitor fish populations, gathered ocean water samples for testing, and examined plankton under a microscope — all activities that take place as part of Seaport Climate Science Program field trips.
The program “is allowing kids from all over the district to be able to come and explore the ocean,” said Pacific Beach Middle School student Collin Scott, 13. “Some kids have dreams about being scientists and I think this could definitely help them. You get to learn about the environment, fish and animals, water temperature – all the stuff out here in the Bay.”
The lesson plans for the program are based on the research and education being conducted at Birch Aquarium.
“The partnership between the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, San Diego Unified, and Seaport San Diego allows us to introduce a new generation of students to ocean research and the methods by which researchers evaluate the health of our oceans,” said Margaret Leinen, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences at UC San Diego. “The Seaport Climate Science Program is a shining example of a public-private partnership that benefits youth in a unique and meaningful way while contributing to our understanding of best practices in climate science education.”
The Seaport Climate Science Program is aligned with curriculum standards for STEM education.
“It is increasingly important that our students are equipped to become good stewards of the environment. Through this collaboration, students will have the opportunity to thrive as they engage in hands-on, climate and marine-science-focused learning experiences,” said San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Lamont Jackson. “This is so important in San Diego because the ocean is connected to our environment, our lives, our culture, and is an essential resource for current and future jobs.”
The Seaport Climate Science Program, now in its second year, will have served more than 1,000 students from San Diego Unified and Sweetwater Union High School District by the end of April.