Article by Skye Sherman for Palm Beach Illustrated | Photo by Jasmine Lotfi
Protecting the Earth starts in your own backyard—and, as a group of local middle schoolers are proving, there’s no minimum age requirement. Enter the Coral Project, a STEAM initiative at Palm Beach Day Academy made possible by a grant from the Annette Urso Rickel Foundation.
After biology teacher Ashley Hollern screened the Emmy Award–winning documentary Chasing Coral, her students were hooked on the topic of coral reefs and their global decline. With help from The Reef Institute and Coral Restoration Foundation, the eighth and ninth graders transformed an underutilized storage closet into a coral nursery, complete with photosynthetic lighting systems and lab-grade tanks they assembled themselves and filled with seawater.
Through the Coral Project, students are able to continue studying a worldwide issue in a personal context. The overall aim of the program is to conduct research and bring awareness to the gravity of reef bleaching at home and abroad. To accomplish the latter, students mobilized history and video production teacher Jonathan Paine, who’s filming a documentary on their project that will air in fall 2020 on PBS.
Note: Watch the the documentary on Saturday, September 19 at 5:30 p.m. (WXEL), Wednesday, September 23 at 7:30 p.m. (WPBT), and Sunday, September 27 at 3:30 p.m. (WPBT).
“We wanted to take an actual global issue and empower these kids to see that they can make a real difference if they take it seriously and are engaged, and they’ve just become incredibly passionate about this whole process,” says Paine. “Whether it’s coral or another global issue, [it’s about] the idea of empowering the children that they can make a difference.”
Read the full article at Palm Beach Illustrated.