The SITC program incorporates a hands-on learning experience into school science curriculum, coupling it with field activities releasing cultured marine fish. The program teaches students about aquaculture and stock enhancement by growing, feeding, tagging and finally releasing fish into local waters. Once released, the students' cultured seabass are tracked by tags embedded in their cheeks.
“This is our stellar Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) program we started three years ago teaching students about wildlife conservation,” said Eileen Sigler, development director of Hubbs-SeaWorld.
Sigler said seabass were especially chosen for the SITC program.
“From the 1950s to the 1980s, the white seabass catch in California dropped from more than 55,000 to less than 3,500,” she said noting the SITC program is not only an educational tool for students,\ but an important first step in repopulating the species.
Preuss teacher Ann Artz led her four students in the May 28 seabass release. It was the culmination of a classroom project that began in February, when juvenile white seabass obtained from HSWRI's Carlsbad fish hatchery were transferred to the Preuss science class. Students there maintained them in a large tank while they grew to about 7 inches in length, a size affording them a greater opportunity to survive in the wild.
“These students have been in an environmental science class all year raising seabass,” Artz said. “This is our second batch. Students fed them and did water analysis in their tank every day, ensuring their was no ammonia or other harmful elements.”
Artz complimented the SITC program, noting it offered her students an opportunity to get involved in — and inspired by — a science research project that taught them about oceanography. They also got to tour the Carlsbad hatchery, which the teacher said was a real learning experience for them to see high numbers of fish being cultured in one place.
Preuss students at UCSD are from underprivileged families whose children have never gone on to college or higher education. The La Jolla school's program seeks to change that.
Preuss student Eduardo Arce from City Heights said he “definitely” got something out of the SITC program.
“I realized there was a lot more to taking care of the fish than just making sure they were alive,” he said. “You have to do a lot of water analysis to make sure the conditions for them are just right.”
It made me appreciate how much time it took to take care of them.”
Janette Jaimes of Sherman Heights said the seabass release program and discussion of global warming inspired her for a time to consider a career in marine science, though she's opted instead to pursue psychology which she said is her “passion.”
Artz is content just to see that the SITC program allowed her students to become engaged in science.
“I don't want them necessarily to major in environmental science,” Artz said. “But one of my goals is for them to be more environmentally aware, that when they leave this classroom, they think about their actions. And the marine science is part of it.”
For more information about Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, visit www.hswri.org.