By Alicia Maturen
Teaching high school Spanish is very rewarding. Doing it in the Dominican Republic with the added bonus of exploring the oceans and learning about reefs and conservation is even more remarkable!
I had the privilege of taking 12 students from my Advanced Placement Spanish class at Plymouth High School and a colleague, Denise Zarate, to Las Galeras in February 2014. We sat paying rapt attention to our great Reef Check Professor, Ruben, as he showed us photo after photo of fishes, invertebrates and substrates.
Other learning opportunities came in the form of power tools- the kids loved assembling their own under water writing boards. Teenagers jump at the chance to use a drill and play with fire! Later we did dry beach time. It was very helpful to lay out our transect lines on the beach and pace them off, getting an idea of how to measure.
Our first day in the water… well, we were challenged. But I love a challenge! We passed our book tests and headed out to the reef to collect data. The students learned so many things: how to work as a team, how to handle the currents, how to accept urchins, the negative reef impacts of over fishing and unprotected waters. The list goes on and on. The students got so excited whenever they saw a fish they had learned how to identify. Substrate hand gestures were a hit today and every day thereafter. Just today I congratulated a student with a "Hard Coral" sign that now replaces our "high fives!"
We are so grateful to Reef Check for this invaluable training. We all look forward to continuing our education, as learners and as teachers, to protect our oceans. Thanks Reef Check!