OCEAN CITY, NJ – Last May, the Ocean City School District was chosen to participate in the grant program “Building Ecological Solutions to Coast Community Hazards,” appointing Curt Nath, Director of Academic Services, as the District’s liaison. The Ocean City Board of Education received a $5,000 grant towards this initiative, allowing opportunity for both teachers and students to form a better understanding in the science of resiliency within our local ecosystem. The grant spans over the course of two years in hopes of supporting the training, development, and application of a model resiliency curriculum.
Students will be using what they learn in the classroom and through hands-on involvement around the community to create connections with real world experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM). With the help of interactive field trips, a school-based sustainability project that addresses coastal community resiliency will be developed.
Recently, 16 students were selected from the Ocean City High School Ecology Club and AP Environmental and Engineering classes, to attend a field trip at the Cape May Nature Center. The trip was led by OCHS teachers Matt Oster, Mike Pomatto, and Dave Ferrante. From the beach to the wooded areas located on the property, the students were able to engage in real life environmental problems. They were asked, “Due to the rising seas and increasing coastal erosions, how do we maintain the quality of the Cape May Nature Center?”
“The seminar stressed teaching through real life problems as opposed to projects.”- Matt Oster
In an attempt to begin solving the issue at hand, teachers and students were encouraged to use the tools on the premise. They tested the local water for both chemical and physical properties, as well as evaluate the current state of the wetlands and sod banks. At the end of the trip, students had to create a presentation regarding their findings from the day and share their suggestions for remediation.
Students and staff are now challenged to observe and record local issues on the coast using the knowledge gained from the Nature Center and future trips. This summer, there will be a program focusing on this resiliency curriculum, with a presentation for the School Board in October. Overall, the grant provides the District with a great opportunity to further their science related education programs, and the chance to work with several ecological groups and high schools around New Jersey.