Coast Weeks 2019: Deep Diving Into our Local EcoSystems

Every year at Sea Crest, the Lower School takes Earth Day to the next level by celebrating “Coast Weeks” an exploration of Coastside environments, their needs and challenges. The annual unit includes grade- specific learning projects, community speakers, and field trips, culminating in a morning of sharing across grades at the end.

This year, teachers started planning early to ensure students had a rich learning experience. Each grade level exploration builds on the Sea Crest commitment to project based learning, an interdisciplinary approach that creates authentic learning outcomes for students. This year, the projects took place the week before and after spring break, with the school-wide learning celebration the final Friday morning. That celebration was a chance for students to be experts to their peers in other grades and share what they had learned, amplifying the learning of each grade.

In Kindergarten, Coast Weeks is the culmination of a longer unit on Trout where students raise trout in the classroom and watch them grow from eggs to alvin to fry to adults at which point the class takes a field trip to Lake Mead to release the trout into the while. The students shared a song about their journey with the school community at last Friday’s learning celebration.

In First and Second Grades, students studied particular animals and got hands on in creating replicas of their own. First Grade focused on Tide Pools,each creating a box of different animals found in the Tide Pools and exploring how they help each other. Second Grade dove into the Kelp Forest, developing a keen understanding of this vibrant eco-system and the importance of Kelp for oxygen production and sustaining these animals. Both classes had a chance to present their projects and leanings to their learning buddies on Friday.

Continuing a developing understanding of h

ow ecosystems work, Third Grade turned to the Wetlands, reading and researching how different plants an animals sustain each other with a deep understanding of food chains and how pollution put them at risk. Each student developed a poem about a preferred wetlands animal in their writer’s workshop and created an illustration in art class. To share the fruits of their explorations with the rest of the Lower School, the classes worked with our music teacher Marcus Cooper to develop a “Wetlands Rap” performed with supporting posters at the Friday assembly.

Fourth Grade similarly explored marine animals. After a presentation from the Marine Mammal Center, students chose a Half Moon Bay animal to research in science as a way to launch their animal life science unit from a student driven perspective. The classes also individually chose a marine animal and poem type for a creative writing project accompanied by a collage.

Fifth Grade prodded deeply into the issue of plastics in our ocean. Using student-driven research and building on presentations from community members, each student developed poems about our responsibility to protect the environment which they shared in a beatnik-inspired poetry cafe. Students also worked in pairs to repurpose trash and disposed plastic into apparel showcased in a “Trashion Show” at Friday’s assembly.

Supplementing the classroom activities, students participated in assemblies and webinars from Sea Hugger, The Marine Mammal Center, the Pacific Beach Coalition and the Marine Science Institute which gave students additional perspectives and showed them people in our own community who are actively working to protect our local environment.

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