Skyping with CRF
Today the 8th and ninth grade students Skyped with the Coral Restoration Foundation located in Key Largo Florida. The students were able to learn all about the foundation and the current research that they are workin on from researchers Austin, and Whitney. The studnets were eager to share their ideas for the Plastic free tree design! We look forward to skyping again in the future!
Today's mission for the 8th and ninth grade students included preparation of the water in the coral tanks, as well as stabalizing them on the tables, and beginning the building of the living wall in the lab that will work directy with the aquaponics tanks that will be installed later in the year.
Today in class the 8th grade chemistry students continued to work on the plastic free tree for the Coral Restoration Design Challenge. Currently CRF grows coral on large plastic trees in the ocean made of PVC (see photo below). Although the design is very effective in increasing coral growth rates, it poses a potential threat to marine life. They understand that the potential threat of a hurricane would not only would it destroy the growing coral, but would carry away all of the plastic PVC in to the ocean. Aware of this potential problem, the Coral Restoration Foundation has challenged students in the state of Florida to rethink the current design. Both the 8th grade chemistry students and 9th grade biology student are working on developing a suitable and sustainable engineering design. In addition to identifying possible materials, the students have been developing a research plan to test the material in salt water for sustainability. Currently in chemistry the students are learning lab skills as well as the importance of SI units, significant figures, conversions and density which we will apply directly to our plastic free design challenge.
Students measuring the lab Space for Architect
Daniella Russo, a ninth grader at Palm Beach Day, offered her architect grandfather to help us with our lab room designs. After touring the room he asked that our students take the easements so that he could help us with the design ideas.
Today the ninth grade had biology class at the beach. Currently we are studying ecology, and what better way to examine biotic and abiotic factors than first hand. In preparation for the trip the students built four quadrats to take with us to the beach. The quadrats are a tool used to quantify a standard distribution of living or nonliving things in a given area. The ninth grade will be using data analysis skills to identify the total population within the area marked. This technique is used to evaluate growth of coral. We also took the opportunity to ted the salinity and take our own measurement to compare to the google earth measurements. Unfortunately, during our short trip, we found a large amount of plastic on the beach.
Today we were grateful to have 9th grader Daniella Russo's grandfather visit our lab. Mr. Nader, an architect from New York, took the time to visit our coral lab and spend some time with the ninth grade to develop a plan for the lab space. We are very thankful for his time ad are eager to see what ideas he has in store for us.
Today Dr. Anette Urso Rickel visited our lab to see the updates we have made following the receipt of a generous grant from the Annette Urso Rickel Foundation. When asked about her visit she responded, “I’m delighted to be here and learn about the Coral Project, and to see the young people so involved in making a difference.” Thanks to her generosity we have the means to launch the Coral Project here at Palm Beach Day Academy.
Today our 8th and 9th graders had the opportunity to hear from Charlotte Nowak, a program coordinator from the Island School, about the amazing experience that the Cape Eleuthera Institute offers. In the spring, the 9th grade will travel to the Island School for a week to participate in marine research while experiencing sustainable living.
Our students shared our Coral Project with Charlotte and explained the Coral Restoration Foundation's design challenge that their class is participating in. We were happy to learn that the Island School also has a coral restoration program and is growing stag horn coral on PVC trees in the waters at Cape Eleuthera. Charlotte shared their design with us and was very interested to hear about our students' ideas for what they will be testing and designing.
Charlotte was also interviewed by 9th grader, Danny Beck, for our podcast series. The podcast will be coming out soon, and will be accessible through the podcast Link on this website.
We had originally scheduled a beach trip for the 9th grade to conduct ecology research. Unfortunately we had to postpose due to Red tide symptoms being reported by beach goers.
Red tide is a harmful algal bloom, referred to as HAB. The species of microorganism known as Karenia brevis, is a dinoflagellate that produces a toxin that, when present in high quantities, can have devastating effects on the marine fish and mammals as can cause respiratory symptoms in humans. When airborne, the toxic that is produced can cause bronchial constriction, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
Harmful algal bloom is associated with warm ocean surface temperatures, high nutrients, and low salinity and is more common in the summer months.
It is important to note that there are many algal microorganisms within the marine waters that are very beneficial to marine life supporting the base of the food chain. However, this particular species produces a toxin that has adverse effects in the ecosystem,
Picture of the beach north of us per Daniella Russo.