Ocean Day went swimmingly at the UCF Creative School
“Science is cool. The ocean is cool. Take care of the ocean. Women can be scientists.” This is what Dr. Linda Walters, UCF biology professor, wanted to teach the students of the UCF Creative School at Ocean Day.
Ocean Day consisted of 120 children, 12 volunteers, and five activity stations. Dr. Walters decided on the live animals/plants touch tank station, but her volunteers came up with the other stations. These included a shark song station where students could sing and dance; matching habitats to animals board game station; skeleton station, which showed the skulls of a sea lion, dolphin, killer whale, and sea turtle; and a hand print station.
The hand print station is where the children got to learn about the “Friend of the Earth” pledge. The purpose of the pledge is to get children to promise not to release their animals into the ocean. When students were asked what they do with their animals when they no longer want them, many said “I put my pet in the ocean.” It’s important for animals not to be released in the ocean because they can become invasive and can change the structure and function of marine ecosystems, which can be disruptive to the food chain.
Located at the station was a piece of paper that the students got to trace their hand on and create their own ocean creature. They were asked to write their name on the bottom of the paper as their signature for the pledge.
To help with Ocean Day, Dr. Walters brought 12 female volunteers with her out of the 100 she has to choose from. “It’s nice to give back to the community and return the favor,” says Samantha Yuan, a master’s student majoring in biology. “It’s fun to see the kids’ faces and the how much excitement they have about the activities.”
When asked how days like Ocean Day can help children, Noemi Rebeli, biology major, said “It helps make the children more aware about keeping the ocean clean. Seeing the creatures makes it real for them.”
“It peaks their interest,” says Donna Campbell, a master’s student majoring in biology. “It’s awesome because most children don’t think about the creatures in the ocean while they’re at the beach. Seeing those creatures here and learning about them will make them more interested.
The Creative School’s goal is to get faculty from all science departments to come to their school for events like Ocean Day. Boosting the science curriculum is top priority.