There’s much to experience under the sea

“To and fro, stop and go, that’s what makes the world go round.” Disney’s classic film “The Sword in the Stone” introduced generations of children to the wizardly Merlin and an adolescent future King Arthur in their fishy form. The song described how the understanding of all beings, on land and under the sea, affords the most comprehensive perspective regarding how the world works. While Disney’s intention was to entertain, Merlin’s simple explanation makes a legitimate point. Of all the world’s water sources, the oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. Supplying 97 percent of the Earth’s water, the oceans are integral to humanity’s survival.

Ocean Friendly Outlook

While at first glance, the ocean might not seem relevant to life on land, one of the hottest scientific topics is the rising temperature of the earth. Every politician has an opinion (even the pope has weighed in) regarding the consequences of rising mercury on the surface, yet the relationship between land and ocean temperatures is sound, solid science. Protecting the world’s oceans from environmental changes and human folly, while educating the public regarding sustainability are going to be the most important tasks of future marine biologists (one of many exciting STEM careers under the sea). Only by continuing to reveal more of the ocean’s hidden contributions to life on land and emphasizing the importance of its assets, can students of marine biology hope to succeed in their field.

Taking the Classroom Under the Sea

Piquing the interest of children at a young age is the goal of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which offers tools and programs to educate students who are enrolled in grades K-12. Scholarships and grants, such as the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship, and programs including Bay-Watershed Education and Training (B-WET), which serves California, Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, New England and Pacific Northwest regions, instill in children the importance of this science by emphasizing their participation in the field. NOAA’s Environmental Literacy Grants Program (ELG) directly works toward promoting greater environmental conscientiousness through STEM education.

Southern California’s fruitful Pacific coastline offers a prime setting for embarking upon a marine biology education. The University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), provides undergraduate and graduate programs in the field. UCSB’s chair of the Department of Ecology Evolution and Marine Biology, Craig Carlson, was the recipient of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography’s (ASLO) coveted G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award in January 2015.

Are your students fascinated with the idea of pursuing a STEM career under the sea, but not sure of which path they should take? Review our “10 Jobs You Can Get in the Ocean Field,” for a bit of marine motivation. Or have them take our STEMType Quiz to find out what role they could take under the sea. You could have the next Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson sitting in your classroom!