Fourth and fifth grade students at A.A. Cole Elementary School in the Central Square School District took a trip of a lifetime and didn’t need to pack a bag or leave their school. The trip was a learning adventure to experience the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and was made possible through a videoconference coordinated by Oswego County BOCES (OCB) Distance Learning Center with Reef HQ Aquarium in Australia.
A guide and a diver, equipped with a video camera and a microphone in her scuba mask, communicated in real-time with the over 50 students in attendance about life on a coral reef. The students saw first-hand a variety of different types of coral, sea cucumbers, sea stars, clams, sea turtles, a nine foot shark named Cuddles along with a leopard shark and a saw fish. In addition to just seeing the creatures, the diver, Claire, spoke about the eating habits and the role that each species plays in the living reef while also answering any of the students’ questions about each species. The guide, Julie, spoke about the steps that each person can take to protect coral reefs and indigenous animals, saying to the students, “Remember, everything we do on land, affects the sea.”
The learning adventure was the culmination of several science lessons for students in Chelsey Smith, Paul Welch, James Sandford, and Gail Wentworth’s classrooms and took place after regular school hours on Wednesday, May 25th.
OCB Distance Learning Coordinator Laurie Ouderkirk coordinates educational videoconferences for school districts and other learning adventures this school year have included virtual trips to Canada and Alaska as well as a videoconference about the Holocaust. For more information about the Distance Learning Center at Oswego County BOCES call (315) 963-4298.