How to Overcome the Challenge of Teaching Marine Science Online

By: Heal the Bay

2020 marked an unprecedented shift in how students learn, and remote and hybrid methods of teaching have become the new norm. As in-person classrooms are replaced with computer screens, it is important to provide educational resources that are engaging and prioritize student-centered, active, hands-on experiences.

When it comes to teaching subjects like science, distance learning has its challenges. How can we effectively teach the complex foundations of marine science through a computer screen? Heal the Bay, an environmental nonprofit dedicated to keeping the waters around Los Angeles safe, healthy, and clean, launched SEA Education to help solve this issue.

Their Science, Environment, and Action online curriculum is designed to teach students in 3rd through 5th grade about marine biology and environmental science through engaging videos and interactive activities. SEA Education aligns with Next Generation Science Standards, Ocean Literacy Principles, and International Society for Technology in Education Standards, and accommodates multiple learning styles.

Read on for three ways SEA Education overcomes typical distance learning hurdles to effectively educate the next generation about marine and environmental science.

  1. Engaging, fresh videos keep students focused. Students get up close with interesting animals like octopuses, sharks, and seahorses as they take a journey through Heal the Bay’s marine science education center.
  2. Hands-on experiments support complex topics. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a high-tech lab to demonstrate science theories. SEA Education features hands-on experiments that can be completed using household items like water, a bowl, or scissors.
  3. Outdoor activities connect students with nature. Students need a break from the screen. SEA Education incorporates observation and activities that bring students away from the computer to experience the nature around them.

SEA Education, along with other Heal the Bay programs, supports the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 14, Life Below Water, is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development. The future of our ocean is dependent on educating and inspiring the next generation to become environmental stewards. By bringing the ocean into the virtual classroom, SEA Education not only teaches students about the wonders of the natural world, but it also inspires them to protect it.

Educating and empowering youth is an essential part of Heal the Bay’s mission, so the organization created new virtual options for students, schools, teachers, and parents to experience the ocean and local wildlife remotely and has scholarships available. In addition to SEA Education, students can register for a virtual science camp to participate in animal and wildlife exploration, hands-on experiments, live demonstrations, and interactive activities. In collaboration with Los Angeles Unified School District, remote classrooms have the opportunity to attend a virtual field trip at Heal the Bay Aquarium to meet the local marine life and learn from educators, scientists, and aquarists.

Before the pandemic hit, Heal the Bay hosted beach field trips for 12,000 Pre-K to 12th-grade students annually from dozens of school districts in Los Angeles County. While nothing beats a trip to the beach—digging for sand crabs, observing wildlife, and seeing pollution issues first-hand—Heal the Bay is determined to bring the ocean and its inhabitants to the virtual classroom.

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