Weeks One and Two: Lesson Planning, Zoom Meetings, and More!

This first couple of weeks of the 21st year of Coral Ed look quite different in comparison to previous years. Remotely, our team is hard at work on materials that we hope teachers and students in San Pedro will be able to use.

In order to get the word out about the Coral Ed program this year, we asked our friends at San Pedro Sun to help us notify people on the island. Check out this link to an article announcing that Coral Ed will not be returning to La Isla Bonita this year.

We started our work this year by reviewing past camp materials (2014 – present) and online resources in order to find what we think are the most promising lessons and activities for future camps. From corals to biotic relationships to mangroves, we sorted through the years, picked our favorites and together we were able to develop over twenty lesson plans! (The process of peer review proved to be extremely helpful). Working on lesson plans when you have not yet taught in San Pedro provides its own set of challenges for members of our team that are new this year, but the team continues to power through and do an amazing job. In another meeting, we each presented our favorite lesson plan to the group (team + professors) in order to get some feedback and share what we were learning and excited about.

The Start of Our Coral Ed Alum Panels

At the end of this week, we had our first Coral Ed alum panel with Beth Callaghan ‘04, who currently works at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was a great opportunity to ask questions about effective lesson planning as well as ways to optimize the online learning experience. 

Moving Forward

Now that we have a grasp on the in-person lesson plans, we will begin the process of transforming those lessons into online formats so that they are available to the children of San Pedro (and possibly even a larger global audience!).

On another note, in lieu of T-shirts this year we got to choose our own ocean-themed mask:


   – Glenda Perez & Team STARRS


First Week of Youth Camp and 2nd Movie Night

Youth Camp

This week we began running our Youth Camp: a 2-week long educational camp focused on marine science for children ages 7-11. We headed out of the house with a suitcase full of supplies, bags filled with bananas for snack time, and an overwhelming amount of excitement for what would be our first day of Youth Camp. About 60 kids showed up and registered the first day of camp and 90+ kids in total registered throughout the week!

The first half of the day consisted of introductions, rules for the camp, “Get to Know you Bingo,” and as always, Coral of the Day. We introduced our camp theme this year: “My Roots in the Sea.” The kids also learned a song called “Don’t Litter the Beach” (lyrics taught by Emily and I accompanied with ukulele) and ended the day with a beach clean-up.

Getting ready for our icebreaker “Get to Know you Bingo”

Jasmine teaching Coral of the Day

The kids doing the beach clean-up

On Day 2, we dove a little deeper into the meaning behind our theme this year by focusing on eco-cultural identity. In order to have the kids learn about this topic, we talked about the meaning of home and where we come from. One of our activities was to use the mural (depicting Ambergris Caye) and have the kids place a cutout where they lived. Another one of our activities was doing a fill-in-the-blank “I am From” poem.

The focus of Day 3 was Mangroves. For the beginning part of camp, we taught the kids a lesson on Mangroves and the role they play in the ecosystem. We also taught the kids a song written by Emily and Jasmine called “The Mangrove Song”.

For the later half of the day, we had guests Chris and Gary from ACES (American Crocodile Education Sanctuary) collaborate with us to teach about the mangroves and crocodiles of Belize. They also talked to the kids about waste, how long different things take to break down, and played a food-chain themed game with them.

Gary giving his lesson on crocodiles and waste

Chris leading his food-chain game in the auditorium

On Day 4 the focus was coral reefs. We had a guest, Mariela Archer, the education director at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, who talked about the roles of different stakeholders in reef conservation. We ended the day with our “building an edible coral polyp” activity, which consists of 3 parts: the polyp (marshmallow), tentacles (twizzlers), and zooxanthellae  (green sprinkles). Each kid built their own coral polyp, and was quizzed on the parts before they were able to eat it.

The kids working on their edible coral polyps

On Day 5, the focus was on relationships and food webs. Yeiny taught a lesson on symbiosis and led an activity that had the kids compare relationships in the sea to relationships that they have in their everyday lives. I taught a lesson focusing more on the food-web and how different animals interact. We played a food-web game using balls of string to illustrate the complexity of food webs and how every component has an effect on the rest.

Zuriel, Josue, Jose, and I posing for a selfie

2nd Movie Night

We had our second movie night at the Lion’s Den on Saturday. It had been raining the entire day, making the evening perfect for movie-watching. We showed the movie Shark Tale and the kids could not stop laughing, they seemed to really enjoy it. About halfway through the movie, a kid from camp even came up to me and asked me about the type of coral being shown in the movie. It was great to see that he was being so observant and using what he had learned in camp!

From left to right: Jasmine, Emily, Giovanna, and Yeiny posing with popcorn & juice at our second movie night


   – Glenda Perez & Team STARRS