Student Angela Olivera and educator Stephanie Clarke-Brooks just returned from their summer adventure. They along with a select group of JASON Learning Argos traveled to the Bahamas.
The two spent five days in July at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) and surrounding area.
While at CEI, they took part in hands-on research with resident and visiting scientists. The CEI staff engaged students in diverse projects ranging from marine environments to sustainable systems.
During the 12-hour days, Argos experienced outdoor excursions and joined interactive field educational lessons. Activities ranged from snorkeling with marine life to cave exploration. They immersed themselves in marine ecology, conservation, and ‘green’ energy.
The Argos explored the island’s scenic bodies of water; observed the coral reef ecology. They learned about sustainability, aquaponics farming systems and mangrove ecosystems. The Argos also took part in shark research as well as got to dissect a fish and squid.
“From Day 1, we were completely immersed in learning,” said Stephanie. “There were many great moments. My favorite memory is watching Angela scribe for a scientist. This was during a nurse shark expedition. We caught and tagged it to track its travel habits.”
There was even time for fun like cliff jumping into the Atlantic Ocean.
“I definitely made lifelong friends,” said Stephanie. “And I met some pretty awesome students from Texas schools. I also learned that ‘our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds.’ The fear of failure destroys our dreams. When you have others encouraging you to jump the cliff into the water below, you JUMP! The students and teachers supported each other to succeed in every endeavor. That is a message I will carry back into the classroom.”
“Everything we did was marvelous and memorable,” said Angela. “Two of my favorite things are oceans and heights. So if I had to pick one highlight it would be jumping off a cliff in High Rock. I always dreamed of what it would feel like to jump and splash into the ocean. That dream came true. And the view of the sea floor was beautiful!”
Each year, JASON Learning selects students and teachers across the country. Selection is a competitive application process.
JASON Learning divided the selected 2016 Argos into three groups. Each Argonaut group took part this summer in one of three scientific expeditions. Some headed to the Bahamas, some to Maine and others spent a week in Alaska.
In the Houston area, 11 teams of student and teacher Argos joined JASON Learning. This is part of a collaborative public-private partnership underwritten by Chevron. The energy corporation has made a financial commitment to STEM education.
The JASON Learning curriculum used in classrooms targets middle school students. The goals are to engage and motivate students while they learn about science. Since the National Argonauts founding 26 years ago, more than 500 students have gone through the program.
The work conducted by Argos makes learning STEM relevant. They learn how they can apply scientific research in real-world settings. Students learn how to identify invasive species and their impact on the environment. The expedition to the Bahamas teaches students about the importance of marine life conservation.
“This was life changing,” said Stephanie. “It allowed Angela and I to learn outside the classroom. The entire adventure allowed us to be creative and to think outside the box. There were many new topics to challenge our minds.
“I can’t wait to talk to students and colleagues about the expedition. I will incorporate what I have learned in the classroom. Seeing others passionate about science is infectious. You can’t help but want to get students excited about STEM. The hope is that my students will pursue STEM careers in their future. “
Angela was an eighth grade student at Hambrick Middle School last year. She is an incoming freshman at MacArthur Ninth Grade School this fall. Angela found the trip educational and fun. As a National Argo, she will serve as a mentor and role model. The program encourages National Argonauts to share their experiences with others.
“There were many opportunities to learn. I acquired so much new knowledge. That is one of the great things about this experience. I got to meet and work with other science nerds. They are just as passionate about science as I am. I didn’t hide my smarts. Instead, I felt proud of my intelligence.
“I returned home with a better understanding of marine life. It has a major impact on all of us. Protecting these environments is important. The oceans are the largest ecosystems on Earth. They are the planet’s largest life support systems. To survive and prosper, we all need healthy oceans.
“It has changed my perspective and even my field of interest. I now want to be a marine biologist.”
Visit JASON Learning for information about the application deadline for the 2017.
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