The class has participated in the MERITO Academy (Multicultural Education for Resource Issues Threatening Oceans) this year. The goal of the MERITO Academy program is to provide high-quality, sustainable science programming integrating watershed and ocean science into fourth- to eighth-grade level public education and extended learning programs, resulting in the active contribution to ocean protection by educated and engaged youth.
The trip was a culmination of a semester-long program. Through the MERITO program, students have gained a love for the ocean and a deeper understanding of the vital role the ocean plays in supporting life on Earth.
The class visited UCSB’s Coal Oil Point Reserve twice this semester, once to learn about the importance of wetlands and our watershed and another trip to participate in tide pool and sand crab monitoring — gathering data just like scientists.
In April, the class took an overnight trip to Wishtoyo, a Chumash village on the coast of Malibu that even included sleeping in aps. The students experienced firsthand many of the Chumash traditions and listened to beautiful stories that have been passed down for generations. They learned more about the marine sanctuary and the positive impact environmental stewardship can have. This experience had a huge impact on the class and motivated them to want to do something to support environmental stewardship in their own community.
The students had been eagerly awaiting this final excursion, and it was an amazing experience for everyone. Students left from Ventura Harbor early in the morning and had an exhilarating ride across the channel — a first! Students spent the day exploring and learning more about the unique plant and animal species found only on the island as well as its rich cultural history and geology.
The MERITO curriculum supports the science standards beautifully. The students were able to experience science content through the lens of ocean science all semester. Students have learned about ecosystems, biodiversity, adaptations, interdependence, conservation and stewardship, and their role in preserving and protecting the environment. All of this learning came together on the trip.
The class has also been reading Island of the Blue Dolphins, so it was really amazing to be on an island and imagine what it must have been like to fight for survival all alone like the main character in the book. It came alive for the students!
One highlight was seeing the island foxes, which just recently have been brought back from the brink of extinction. The students had learned about the island fox and were so excited when many came right up to them.
The views were breathtaking, and the water was clean and full of marine life. This is an experience the class will never forget! As one fourth-grader commented, “This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!”
— Holly Gil is an Adelante Charter School parent.