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START launches website for Lee County student benefit

By Staff | Dec 21, 2010

The Sanibel-Captiva chapter of START has launched www.coastalclassroom.org, which is a teaching aid for the Lee County School District. This Internet-based website contains 20 teaching modules that Lee County science teachers can access that provides complete classroom instruction on various marine biology topics.

Each module contains a teacher section and an interactive student section and the instructional content conforms to the State of Florida’s Educational Sunshine Guidelines. In other words, it is “classroom ready.”

The modules are designed for seventh grade students, a great age to target so we can encourage environmental responsibility. however, these modules will be useful for students of several grades. These students will also help educate their parents.

“Each of these modules are very informative and anyone of any age can learn something important about our oceans and how better to preserve them for future generations,” said Les Boyle, secretary of the San-Cap START chapter.

As education budgets have been slashed, environmental classroom budgets have been strongly affected. By reaching students at an early age, START hopes to help deliver important environmental messages that might otherwise not be taught.

Some of the module topics include “Plastics in the Ocean,” “Oil in the Ocean,” “Tides,” “Ocean Acidification,” and “Coral Reefs in the Gulf of Mexico,” among others.

Several Lee County teachers participated in the design and content of this teaching program. Early in the new year, START will sponsor teacher training sessions which will qualify for continuing education credits.

Rick Tulley and Lee Hughes, Coordinator of Environmental Sciences for Lee County Schools both recently reviewed the program and were excited to have it added to their teaching resources.

“We are all excited about how this project turned out,” said Diane Cortese, who was among the teachers who gave input on the project. “It will give us a great teaching tool that we can use for a long while”.

The project was co-produced by START and Sanibel Seas School with Dr. Bruce Neill, PhD and director of Sanibel Sea School the lead producer. Sanibel Sea School staff assisted with the production and START provided the funding for the program through the Cracker Fest.

“This has been a great project where cooperation between Sanibel-based non-profits has produced a product that will likely reach far beyond our immediate region,” said Dr. Neill. “We have been able to utilize funds generated locally and local talent to enhance the education process of Lee County students; the result of that cooperation will likely provide benefits throughout the State of Florida and in the Southeast region.”

START’s vision is to improve the quality of our marine waters through research, public education and programs that restore marine habitats, preserve marine species, and promote healthy beaches and coastal waterways. Based in Sarasota, START has chapters in Boca Grande, Bonita Springs/Fort Myers Beach, Englewood, the Sarasota-Bradenton area and Sanibel-Captiva.