To facilitate community education and outreach relating to the function and significance of coastal ecosystems, the NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC) at FAMU hosted the 2016 FAMU SOE Summer Camp. Beginning Monday, June 13th through Friday, June 30th, fourteen (14) rising 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students from minorities that are underrepresented in the STEM disciplines attended the camp. The students participated in classroom activities, guest lectures, hands-on laboratory experiments, and field trips aligned with the summer camp theme, “Preserving Our Coasts: Ecosystems and Human Dimensions”. The overall purpose of the camp was to explore the relationship between the natural environment and human activities by discussing environmental issues that threaten coastal ecosystems, and examining policy, laws, and/or regulations addressing these issues. The campers explored various concepts associated with the four ECSC focus areas, including sediment and water quality, land use and planning, application of mapping and modeling tools, and ocean and coastal management.
Each day of camp, SOE graduate students (including both those supported by the ECSC and those supported by other funding sources) led the group through classroom activities and accompanying lab experiments. Additionally, the students participated in interactive guest lectures hosted by ECSC faculty members at the FAMU main campus and the law school, as well as various NOAA employees. Some topics covered were land use issues, sources of ocean pollution, and the causes and consequences of ocean warming and ocean acidification. Campers spent time in the field collecting their own samples which they took back to lab for additional study to better understand the concepts covered in the classroom. They also traveled on educational field trips to relevant destinations, including the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve and the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center located in Panama City, Florida, where they learned even more about coastal environments and the ecosystem services and resources they provide. Another relatively important element of the FAMU SOE Summer Camp was exploration of careers in NOAA-relevant STEM disciplines. The aim of this component of the program was to link the career goals of each participant with occupations and opportunities within the field of environmental science. During group discussions, campers were able to correlate the environmental topics/issues discussed during class to their own individual career aspirations. In doing so, they (1) accentuated their various skills and talents; (2) developed a stronger perspective of their career aspirations; (3) became more aware of the environmental field and its wide array of career 38 opportunities; and (4) were exposed to the numerous tools available to help carve their educational and/or career paths.
NOAA-ECSC is funded under the NOAA/EPP Cooperative Agreement Award# NA11SEC4810001
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