Students from the Environmental Sciences course in the Segundo Ruiz Belvis High School in Hormigueros visited Playita Rosada on Friday, December 7th, 2018. Their goal was to learn more about marine and coastal ecosystem and their importance. As before, Ms. Ángela del Toro served as teacher guide for the students and led them while they learned about some of Puerto Rico’s most important resources. During their visit, students attended several stations we set up, each focusing on one aspect of the local ecosystems: mangroves, sand composition, marine invertebrates, water quality and lionfish.

When the students passed through the mangrove station, they showed a lot of interest, since they had been studying mangroves in class. Many of them already knew the main characteristics of the mangrove trees in our archipelago, although the majority of the students had never seen the trees from up close. At another station, they studied sand composition. They analyzed several samples using a field microscope and viewed the several different elements making up sand. Students enjoyed this activity very much. Then, they attended a brief lecture about lionfish, in which they learned about the harm this creature causes to local organisms. One of the ways to curb the lionfish population is to eat it, so our educational resource showed students how to safely prepare lionfish for eating. Students also had the chance to visit the marine invertebrates station, in which they saw and interacted with several animals collected from nearby areas. This station is always a top attraction, since students can see these creatures up close and touch them in a way that is safe to both animal and participant.

Lastly, the students attended a lecture on water quality. This lecture was offered upon the teacher’s request, since students were undertaking their Project Based Learning project and it was related to this topic. Maintaining our water quality is fundamental to preserving life, both for marine and coastal ecosystems and their inhabitants and thus, humans themselves. Here, they measured several different parameters which indicate water quality, such as water turbidity, dissolved oxygen levels, nitrates, nitrites, phosphates, temperature and salinity, among others. It was an enriching experience for these youths. As always, keep moving forward!

By Delmis del C. Alicea Segarra, EdD
Photo credits: Efra Figueroa
Translated by Wilmarie Cruz Franceschi, MA

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