As a teacher and resident of New Haven for the past 22 years, I have had an increasing concern about the future of the community and its environment. My goal has been to educate New Haven youth about their local ecosystems and their role in preserving the integrity of their natural surroundings and resources for generations to come. I represent a tool to guide them through a series of discovery activities that provokes thoughtful analysis and leads to careful decision making concerning everyday needs and long term lifelong goals and dreams.
With a weak economy, it is certainly no surprise that fuel costs and energy sources are often front-page news. People are struggling to heat their houses and keep their cars on the road. More talk of energy reform is hopeful in the near future. Residents wait for incentives to switch to alternative energy sources and make us less dependent on non-renewable fuel sources such as oil. We all hope that this will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gases and perhaps slow down the effects of climate change. The threat of oil disasters such as the BP spill in the Gulf begs to be a forgone memory of our past.
The Sound School Regional Aquaculture Center literally sits on the shores of New Haven Harbor which leads into Long Island Sound. Tankers carry fuel in and out of the harbor to and from fuel tanks stored in the inner harbor. Oil companies run trucks with this fuel to local residents and businesses. The United Illuminating stack, visible from the campus, is a reminder that it burns that oil to provide its residents with electricity while adding to the local pollution problem.
The students at the Sound School are fortunate to have easy access to such a wonderful educational classroom as Long Island Sound. They have the use of a fleet of boats for study and for play. They learn to operate a variety of vessels from small traditional sail boats used for oystering, to rowing gigs, to a large passenger vessel that serves as our science research vessel. Our students have a great love and respect for this natural resource and are concerned about its future "well being". The harbor and Sound will be the setting for implementing what I hope to accomplish with this project.
The goals of this curriculum are to introduce the students to the world of oil and the issues surrounding it. They will first gain an understanding of how oil is located drilled harvested and transported to their homes. Then they will explore the environmental challenges of off shore drilling and take a close look at the Deepwater Horizon Spill and its effects on the ocean ecosystem and its coast. They will do this through various directed labs, research and student driven activities. Finally, they will start a long-term study relating the burning of oil and other fossil fuels and the connection to changing parameters in the marine environment.