SEA TURTLES IN THE CLASSROOM: AN ACTIVITY GUIDE CORRELATED TO SOUTH CAROLINA STATE EDUCATION STANDARDS
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Many different factors have contributed to the decline of sea turtle populations around the world, but almost all of these factors have one attribute in common—they are humaninduced. Therefore, the majority of conservation plans for sea turtles include a strategy for public education and outreach. From a sea turtle management and conservation standpoint, there are two main goals of public education: the first is to make people aware that they have an impact on the survival of sea turtles, and the second is to provide people with accurate knowledge about sea turtles. Once these two objectives have been met, people can then make informed decisions concerning their behavior towards sea turtles, evaluate and choose among management options, and participate meaningfully in local and national policy discussions. The South Carolina Aquarium’s “Sea Turtle Rescue Program” sponsors outreach activities in support of public education. With an aim to expand these activities to embrace formal curricula designed for elementary school children, I developed a sea turtle activity guide designed to implement the state of South Carolina education standards for children ages 9 to 12. The guide provides students with knowledge of sea turtles, as well as the causal factors in population declines, and seeks to cultivate an informed citizen by communicating information to young people concerning the impact various human behaviors have on sea turtle survival. By gaining this knowledge early in life, the hope is that students will make more environmentally informed decisions about their own behavior(s) as they mature. The activity guide consists of five sections: Introduction to Sea Turtles; Adaptations; Life Cycle; Nesting; and Sea Turtle Rescue and Care. All of the activities were created using a standard lesson plan format. Each activity features a title, focus question, activity synopsis, time frame, key terms, objectives, standards, background, materials, procedures, and assessment. Selected activities were classroom-tested at the aquarium during the summer of 2006. Hard copies of the activity guide will be distributed to the aquarium, to South Carolina educators, and, in partnership with the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), to Caribbean educators. In addition, an on-line version will be available on both the South Carolina Aquarium’s website and at WIDECAST’s website.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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