This was a fabulous six-day field-oriented Island Ecology course conducted at the USC Marine Science Center on beautiful Catalina Island August 2nd through August 7th, 2010. The course was designed for teachers at all grade levels and involved the principles of ecology applied to islands of the world with a special emphasis on the channel islands of southern California, specifically Catalina Island. Content focused on principles of island biogeography and ecology such as colonization, succession, energy flow, and niche partitioning, including a variety of intra and interspecies interactions. Particpants learned about unique natural history of fascinating terrestrial and marine island life, island geology, human impacts, and the preservation and conservation of island ecosystems. They enjoyed a variety of exciting hands-on activities such as snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, laborary work, and field investigation as well as interesting seminars, lectures, and special presentations. Credit was provided through Cal Poly Extension.
Some of the highlights of the week included night observations of flying fish with associated bioluminescence, being surrounded by large schools of sleek baracuda, swimming over a congregation of over 40 slithering leapard sharks, and following a community of gentle bat rays so close you can define the teeth on the modified defense spine at the base of their tails. Teachers conducted actual scientific investigations of local marine organisms addressing components of the scientific method such as hypothesizing, predicting, experimental design, data collection, analysis and presentation.
Due to the overwhelming sucess of this course we are planning to offer the course next year. Several of the teachers this year have indicated they would serve as teacher leaders next year. If you are interested in participating next year please contact Dr. Lavoie. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you don't have to be a teacher to attend. Children over age of 12 are welcome if accompanied by a parent.
The photos below show the teachers in action!
About the Instructor
Dr. Lavoie has taught biology for the last 25 years in a variety of school settings. He has a special interest in marine biology and ecology and spent four years living on Catalina Island where he taught environmental science. Dr. Lavoie currently teaches biology at Cuesta College and is the Director of the Discovery Institute for the Advancement of Science and Technology Education, a non-profit foundation devoted to the improvement of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. His most recent book, "Models of Science Teacher Preparation: Theory into Practice" is being used in science teacher preparation world wide. In his spare time he enjoys hiking and biking with his family.
This course was sponsored and supported by the Discovery Institute for the Advancement of Science and Technology Education and USC Marine Laboratory. For questions concerning CEUs through Cal Poly Continuing Education contact Patricia Stoneman, Director of Academic Progams. For questions regarding course requirements, fees, schedule, content, activities and logistics contact Dr. Derrick Lavoie at the Discovery Institute.