This past spring of 2012, campus dean Dr. Martin Rudd requested that my colleague, Dr. Beth Johnson and I offer a course on ocean issues. The campus had received financial support from the Mielke Family Foundation for student attendance at the 48th Nobel Conference, that year focusing on ocean issues. In that four-student seminar, we required that students complete a capstone project, loosely defined. The students were moved by the severity of ocean-related concerns and decided to create lessons to help middle school-level students better engage with ocean issues.
The seminar course covered a variety reading and discussion of ocean contemporary issues, which the conference supplemented with high-caliber research presentations. The goal of the capstone project was to encourage students to deeper engage with the content presented.
The students decided to work in coordination with each other in designing lesson plans for a fully modular curriculum unit on ocean issues. The class decided on four specific ocean issues (carbon cycle, acidification, overfishing, loss of coral habitats) as most necessary to an overview of ocean issues, also noting the topics’ sequential nature in building the content base.
Each student took one topic and designed a lesson that used hands-on demonstrations of the concept, while also giving the learner practice at basic scientific methods.