Loggerhead Marinelife Center

Virtual field trips teach students ocean conservation with a focus on threatened and endangered species

08/21/2013  | 
Experiential Learning

STEM has become a common acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a non-profit organization nestled along Florida’s east coast in Juno Beach, Florida, embraces the science sector of STEM. The center offers various weekly educational programs, along with free admission to over 215,000 visitors annually, with many of them being school-aged children. The center’s mission is to promote conservation of Florida’s coastal ecosystems with a special focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles. The campus sits adjacent to one of the most densely nested beaches in the world for loggerhead sea turtles, with three species of sea turtles returning to Juno Beach to lay their eggs every year.

The main goal for Loggerhead Marinelife Center educators is to make their outstanding ocean conservation education programs more accessible to people, regardless of their demographic, location or financial status. To reach more students, the center has been focusing on expanding their two Passport Programs, which allow schools with the greatest need to participate in a field trip or outreach at a discounted rate. Another way the center is extending their world-class education status across the globe is by offering virtual field trips for public, private and home school classes, as well as to the general public.

With the use of Skype and a computer or tablet, students will be able to experience the center virtually through the use of technology. Viewers will be able to see the sea turtle patients and go inside the hospital facility on their tour, as well as learn the importance of ocean conservation from one of the center’s educators. This interactive and engaging program allows the center to share the amazing work being done with people from all over the world. The center has already received international exposure with this program by educating students in classrooms from Germany.

Virtual field trips run 45-60 minutes. The field trips are available weekdays from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. (depending on availability) and cost $100 per program. The center also offers outreaches for schools unable to travel to the center. The educational journey includes information on Florida’s marine turtles, in addition to hands-on investigation of sea turtle, shark and other marine artifacts.

Although the organization has grown significantly in size and scope, its commitment to education has remained unchanged. The center’s curriculum follows the State of Florida’s current Next Generation Sunshine State Standards and covers a wide range of topics including sea turtle biology, ecology, veterinary practices and conservation issues of the natural environment. Each field trip is customized to meet the visiting classroom’s grade level and educational needs, and is aimed at teaching a sense of respect and stewardship of the natural world.

The center’s campus features an on-site, world-class sea turtle hospital, several aquariums buzzing with various marine life, hands-on exhibits, an interactive learning center and an outdoor Turtle Yard, which hosts the center’s sea turtle patients. In addition to Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s campus, visiting school groups can enjoy the surrounding Loggerhead Park. The park includes rest rooms, showers, pavilions, nature trails, a playground, free parking and guarded beach access.

A particularly successful distance learning component available to schools across the world is sea turtle adoptions for classrooms. At any point during the year, students may “adopt” one of the center’s current patients. Each week, classrooms can follow along with online updates about the progress of their patient to learn more about common illnesses, injuries and medical practices. Sea turtle adoptions for classrooms are available at a discounted rate by contacting the center directly. Students will also be able to watch one of our sea turtle patients via the center’s webcam.

More information about Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s premiere science education programs may be obtained by calling 561-627-8280 ext. 118, e-mail [email protected] or visitwww.marinelife.org. The center is located at 14200 US Highway One in Juno Beach, Florida.
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