Green

Category contains 17 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

By Emily Hart

This week we had our first group of Step 1 students in the sailing school. As the youngest learners, we hope to keep them coming back for years and it’s important to get them excited about Boston Harbor! We had a great discussion about the animals they see in the harbor and played a Web of Life game to create a visual food web. We had so much fun! In our ending discussion, we talked about how all of us can help to protect the animals in the harbor. “Don’t eat the creatures!” was one of our favorite suggestions, along with picking up trash and remembering that the things we do at home can still affect the oceans.

For the next group, I’ll be adding a Boston Harbor species matching game to help students identify the species living in the harbor and a few in the northeast. Check out a great interactive website and follow us in our learning: http://www.umb.edu/academics/environment/boston_harbor_marine_ecosystem

One more thing… I recently learned that there are only about 500 North Atlantic Right Whales left in the world. These whales don’t usually join us in Boston Harbor, but they feed off of Massachusetts in the spring. North Atlantic Right Whales were plentiful here before whaling, but populations have been failing to recover because of ship strikes and entanglement with fishing nets. This year, the calf count is up to 11 in 2014—great news! Check out the New England Aquarium’s Right Whale Research Blog to learn more about local conservation efforts: http://rightwhales.neaq.org/

in Green

By Emily Hart, 2014 Environmental Education Program Coordinator:

I’m excited for my first summer at Courageous as the Environmental Education Program Coordinator. We’ve had a great first week!

We have two initiatives this summer to encourage staff and students to take positive actions on environmental issues: Meatless Monday and Waste-Free Wednesday. On Mondays, students in each step will receive one point for a lunch without beef, pork, poultry or fish, and on Wednesdays, students will receive one point for a lunch that produces zero waste (reusable containers, real silverware, cloth napkin, lunchbox or canvas bag). Waste and pollution from livestock production contributes to global climate change and damages ocean ecosystems, so we’re excited to help students learn how they can make small changes that have big impacts on their own health and the health of the oceans. Waste-Free Wednesday is in its second summer and it’s great to continue the conversation on how trash from land ends up in the ocean.

This week in the summer youth sailing school, we talked about crustaceans and jellies! We played crab tag and Invasive Species Web of Life to learn more about how the invasive Asian shore crab is affecting ecosystems here in Boston Harbor. In the Summer Learning Program, we explored the simple machines on sailboats, made windmills and used energy from the sun to cook s’mores in solar ovens! Imagine smiling faces and sticky chocolate fingers. I’m excited to work with the Instructors in Training (IITs) to give them a broad base in environmental issues (this week we learned about waste!) and to develop a related service-learning project over the coming weeks. 

in Green

One of the most rewarding experiences for me as an environmental educator this summer was working with the Instructors in Training (IITs).  At Courageous, the IITs are high school students who have attended the summer youth program for many years or are interested in becoming a sailing instructor.

The environmental aspect of the IIT program has two main components: learning more about environmental science and learning how to teach environmental science.  Each week, on Tuesday afternoons, I facilitated a mini-lecture on the week’s topic (mammals, crustaceans, sharks, etc), then the IITs participated in hands-on activities or experiments to further understand the subject.  These lessons were appropriate for high school level learners, using proper vocabulary and themes.  However, the hands-on activities were always fun and allowed the IITs the chance to immerse themselves in the learning in a fully enjoyable way.

On Thursday afternoons, the IITs and I worked on how to teach environmental topics to their future sailing students. These lessons often involved half of the group of IITs pretending to be beginning sailing students and the other half of the IITs facilitating an environmental activity for them.  Sometimes the lessons focused more on how to talk to students about nature and the outdoors while sailing.

I had a great time working with the IITs this summer.  Their energy and willingness to learn were a true inspiration.  I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to lead future instructors in becoming more environmentally aware and  more eager to teach environmental education to their students.

in Green

This summer, Courageous had the opportunity to provide reuseable water bottles to all of our young sailors.  Fitting perfectly with our Waste Free Wednesdays and commitment to heightened environmental awareness for our sailing center as a whole, the water bottles provided us the chance to significantly minimize waste. 

Continue reading
in Green

Like I mentioned early in the week, Shark Supporters Week is about helping students and staff learn about sharks and begin to appreciate them as key players in the marine ecosystem. Find some great lessons to educate about sharks at the links below:

PBS      Discovery 

Remember to introduce science facts about sharks into the lessons so we can all view sharks as the beautiful, skilled predators that they are and not just ruthless man-eaters.  Sharks are always an interesting marine biology topic that excites kids and adults, so make sure to help others learn more than just what the media advertises about these special sea creatures.

in Green