The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores has teamed up with area homeschool students to help protect the seas. The Aquarium launched the Ocean Action Club for middle school and high school students last September as part of the annual Homeschool Day activities. Next week, two club members head to Washington, D.C. to present their ideas to the National Student Summit on Oceans and Coasts.
In the inquiry-based club, said organizer and Aquarium Educator Gail Lemiec, members choose the topic to research and how to implement solutions they develop. “They do something they want to do,” she said. “It’s a good way to get students involved.” The club is expanding membership to students in formal middle schools and high schools this spring. For more information on joining, contact Gail Lemiec at 252- 247-4003, ext. 226.
Club members voted to tackle ocean acidification – ocean chemistry changes from increased carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere. These changes reconfigure the ocean’s ecological balance. While some shell-building animals and other organisms respond negatively to the altered conditions, other species tolerate or even thrive in them.
High school students Destiny King of Newport and Cierra Tomaso of Pine Knoll Shores will detail the club’s plans in their summit presentation and a scientific poster. This spring, club members will assess awareness of ocean acidification by surveying Aquarium visitors. Results will guide them in creating an educational demonstration or program incorporated into Aquarium exhibits for the summer. The Ocean Action Club also plans to set up an informational booth during the Aquarium’s observance of World Ocean’s Day June 8, and to engage more of their peers by participating in this year’s Homeschool Day on Sept. 13.
“We’re all young but we can still make a difference,” said Destiny King. “The more of our friends and peers we have helping, the more difference we can make.” The club will expand membership to students in formal middle school and high schools this spring.
“The Ocean Action Club is a great way to focus the passion and enthusiasm of students for protecting the environment and helping to educate Aquarium visitors about these important issues,” said Aquarium Director Allen Monroe. “We are looking forward to the growth of this club as participants engage their peers and contribute to the appreciation and conservation of North Carolina’s aquatic environments.”
Coastal America – A Partnership for Action sponsors the youth summit and covers travel expenses for the two students. Summit sessions are planned for various locations, including the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The Coastal America partnership is a collaboration of national, state and local agencies and non-governmental organizations working together on critical environmental issues. The Aquarium is a designated Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers under the partnership.