[Coral-List] Post for input from coral-list members concerning education, outreach, and coral reef decline in Florida

Brian Plankis brian at reefstewardshipfoundation.org
Tue Nov 25 15:39:35 EST 2008

Dear coral-listers,

My name is Brian Plankis and I am the president of the non-profit
organization the Reef Stewardship Foundation and a doctoral candidate in the
College of Education at the University of Houston.

I am currently running an educational research study in collaboration with
Eric Borneman. The topics of the study are ocean literacy, coral reef
decline, and the International Year of the Reef. One of the high schools
that is participating in our study is in Florida and we have some great

The students are conducting what are called "issue investigations" where
they not only look at the science about environmental problems and issues,
but also the social and political factors that influence their chosen issue.

Due to research study rules we cannot have the students use coral-list, but
we have one group of students that is quite upset about coral reef decline
and they have asked numerous questions. While we have answered them and
addressed some of their concerns, one question struck a serious chord of
concern to us and we would like the feedback of the list. Below is the
question from the student:

>>Title: I have beef with the school system.

Concern: "Since I've lived in Florida, I have never seen a warning sign
stating the effects of touching coral or other human interaction with
biodiversity issues. Actually I never really knew much about the reefs or
anything else related to the ocean until I started taking marine bio. I've
lived in Florida for most of my life and I was never aware of these oceanic
environmental problems. Why isn't there more stress put upon the importance
of the ocean when we live on a peninsula? Why wasn't I taught this in
integrated science or previous sciences I took in middle school? Is marine
bio. and oceanography a fairly new science? Or is there opposition to its
importance? I've talked to a few of my friends and they feel the same

We would like to request any comments from coral-list members, especially if
you have knowledge of Florida's situation, educational system, or political
environment, and I will post your responses to our private discussion forum
for the research study. If the students have additional questions that could
benefit from the input of the list, I will post them as well.

Thanks for your prompt consideration of this request.


Brian Plankis
University of Houston
College of Education
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
brian.plankis at reefstewardshipfoundation.org

Eric Borneman
University of Houston
Department of Biology and Bicohemistry

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