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Students Learn About Habitat with NOAA
School’s out for summer—but there’s still time to learn about restoring habitat! The Restoration Center/NOAA has several programs that engage students in the nitty-gritty of restoration, teaching them the importance of habitat and encouraging stewardship.
In Gloucester, one of our Restoration Center staff has been the “visiting scientist” at the Beeman School’s fourth grade class. The students go out to our Gloucester Mill Pond project to look for creatures in the mudflats. They’re learning about “indicator species,” certain animals or invertebrates that—when they exist in an ecosystem—indicate that it’s healthy and thriving.
In Seattle, summertime means NOAA Science Camp. Middle-schoolers get to learn about all the sciences NOAA uses to manage our fisheries, monitor our weather, and protect our oceans. Through the Restoration Center, they design their own habitat restoration project that will help salmon get past dams on a fictional river. They look at things like restoring the natural sinuosity of the river and trash cleanup, and weigh the costs and benefits of different restoration techniques.
And in Portland, we have older students—in graduate school—who are interning in our office. They’re working on a variety of projects, including:
- Developing a study design for monitoring restoration projects in the Portland Harbor Superfund site,
- Creating GIS maps to help NOAA biologists with Endangered Species Act consultations,
- Fish passage modeling, and
- Drafting communications and outreach materials for the website, Facebook page, and other venues.
And these projects aren’t just for fun: they’re all exploring ideas that NOAA staff is interested in but haven’t had time or resources to address. We’ll be putting the results of these projects to use in the future.
We hope that these learning opportunities will encourage students to develop a life-long interest in habitat and restoration.
Posted July 16, 2012