Sharks, Stewardship, and STEM – Lessons with Lindsay Laughner
Montgomery Village, Maryland
Summer had just begun. I was cleaning up my first grade classroom in Bloomington, Indiana, when a Facebook post notification appeared on my computer. Chris Fischer, OCEARCH Founder and Expedition Leader posted that he had talked with a classroom and offered to Skype with others. Would he be willing to talk with my students, in a small school in Indiana? Of course! Our school had a Skype session for the first time and Chris Fischer was fantastic. We couldn’t wait to check the OCEARCH Global Tracker every morning, as we learned STEM skills while learning about the lives of white sharks around the world. We were also applying our knowledge across other subjects. Students were engaged in science and math, we were integrating technology and taking action as ocean stewards. Some of my students might not ever get to visit the ocean, but I wanted them to know about it, and feel empowered to save it.
In 2015, I met Chris Fischer, and joined the OCEARCH Education team as a volunteer Education Ambassador, writing STEM curriculum in partnership with Landry’s, for grades K-8. Over the next year, the OCEARCH STEM curriculum was also used to create free STEM programs. We began doing teacher workshops on the ship during expedition outreach, and then STEM Day Camps, inviting students and their families to join us for hands-on activities and interact with OCEARCH scientists and crew members! Our virtual outreach also expanded. I began doing Skype sessions with students all over North America and doing virtual teacher workshops, sharing OCEARCH’s research and message about sharks, STEM and stewardship.
During expeditions, scientists began talking to me about their research projects. This inspired more activities, so students could also be connected to their projects, as well as the sharks on the tracker. OCEARCH crew members offered their help too! Their work is so exciting! I wanted to share their research, share shark facts, show others how they can integrate the tracker, and teach their students about sharks and the ocean; anywhere, anytime, in any subject. So, I began a Twitter account to share my marine science lessons live! Need an idea for teaching fractions with white sharks? Let’s do it! Here’s an idea how! The ocean and sharks are engaging, dynamic, subjects. We are always learning new things about them. You can use the ocean and sharks to discover and apply knowledge about bacteria, waves, sound, biology, chemistry, physics, art, and more! Our students are the next generation of scientists, policymakers, teachers, engineers, consumers, farmers, anglers, and more. Their work and choices will change the world, let’s enable them to make a positive impact for sharks, the ocean, and the planet. It is going to take all of us. OCEARCH has taught me more marine science in 5 years, than I could ever imagine. They have given me the opportunity of a lifetime. YOU can learn and teach using OCEARCH too! Are you ready to educate, inspire, and enable your students?
Lindsay is a marine science educator and an OCEARCH Education Ambassador. As a volunteer, she integrates the OCEARCH Global Tracker and the Next Generation Science Standards into the OCEARCH S.T.E.M. curriculum and programs, to prepare students to be the next generation of ocean stewards. She has joined OCEARCH on eight expeditions, where she is a part of education outreach, and collaborates with scientists and crew members to create content that connects students and teachers with the research conducted on the ship and the science of the ocean and marine species. When OCEARCH is not on expedition, She does virtual outreach (via Skype sessions), hosts teacher workshops, does presentations at local schools and organizations, and teaches a middle school marine science J-Term class.