Students from Oceanside and Tijuana learned about water pollution and agriculture Nov. 7 as part of a World Water Monitoring Day event at Birch Aquarium that included lessons from San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) specialists.
SDCOE's Green Machine and Splash Science Mobile Lab were featured at the event, which was put on by San Diego Coastkeeper, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting and restoring water in San Diego County. San Diego Coastkeeper and Birch Aquarium also presented lessons at the event.
Students said they learned valuable lessons about pollution, water, and wildlife.
"I learned that if we contaminate the water then we actually contaminate the ocean," said Danna, a 6th-grader from Colegio Cricri in Tijuana. "That's why it is important to take care of the water."
Benjamin, a 5th-grader at Stuart Mesa Elementary in Oceanside said he was excited to not only get to learn about ladybugs but also to get to hold some.
"I liked that we learned about bugs and how some are harmful and some are not," he said.
A total of 127 students in grades 4 through 6 attended the event. Most of the students live near estuaries. The majority of the students from Stuart Mesa Elementary live on Camp Pendleton, near the Santa Margarita Estuary. The students from Tijuana live near the Tijuana Estuary. An Estuary is a partly enclosed body of water that runs between the open sea and at least one fresh-water river or stream.
"We teach them about what's going on in their own backyard," said Megan Baehrens, executive director of San Diego Coastkeeper. "It's very practical and science-focused."
Students from Tijuana were selected for the trip for having good grades in their English classes and good behavior.
"They feel special because they were chosen, and we have them do a presentation when they come back and share with others," the principal of the school said.
Fe Perez, teacher at Stuart Mesa Elementary, said she has already used information provided by Birch Aquarium in classroom lessons and plans to follow up after the event with more.
"It's a real-life experience that brings the classroom to life for them," she said.
The event is a great way for SDCOE's Outdoor Education specialists to reach students they wouldn't normally, said Amy Tran, a program assistant with the Outdoor Education unit. The lessons are custom-tailored for the students, focusing on the estuaries they live near.
World Water Monitoring Day is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness of the importance of protecting water resources around the world by engaging people to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies. San Diego Coastkeeper has been organizing the local event at Birch Aquarium since 2011.
"It's a celebration about water quality and the importance of keeping water clean," said Sandra Lebron, education coordinator with the group.