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Teaching Teachers at the Boeing Teacher Institute

In Focus's avatar

Education | Interview

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

In Focus

Mr. Smith and BTI photo - popup

Everyone remembers their favorite teacher; the one who made learning fun and inspired you to be a passionate student.

Each year, with the help of a generous grant from The Boeing Company, the Aquarium of the Pacific hosts a group of these inspiring and fun teachers for a week-long educational experience. This past summer, thirty educators were chosen to attend the workshop for free.

Mr. Smith, a fifth grade teacher from Tincher Prepatory Elementary in Long Beach, was one of the lucky thirty. Today he recaps his experience from this past summer.

When I received the email about The Boeing Teacher Institute, I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. All I had to do was send in an application and I could potentially spend a week learning about marine science with my peers, while also increasing my skills as a teacher. Plus, I’d get to spend two days at the Aquarium of the Pacific and three days at USC Wrigley Campus for Environmental Studies on Catalina Island?!

I promptly sent in my information and after an interview with the Aquarium’s education department, I was approved for a space in the program and would soon be in for five days of cool activities and educational experiences.

Mr. Smith and Kayaking photo

Every day was filled with something new to learn. One morning we were taught about marine protected areas and endangered species in the ocean, and then later that day we went behind the scenes to see the red and white abalone being bred by the Aquarium in an effort to save the species.

We also got to snorkel along the Catalina coast and kayak around the isthmus to take in the terrain, two things that I had never done before!

All this, plus seminars with ocean scientists, whale watching, lessons on topics varying from bioluminescence to sustainable seafood, and more—it really was an action-packed week!

Throughout this time, we met with colleagues who teach students in the same age range. During these collaborative meetings, we brainstormed ways we could take what we learned back to the classroom.

Hands on activity inspired by BTI

Inspired by the story of the critically endangered vaquita porpoise, my group came up with a few hands-on activities for our classes. One activity will challenge students to create an invention that will help clean the ocean and prevent plastics from hurting ocean animals. In another activity, our students will write a report on an endangered animal that inhabits California and yet another activity will be a simple coloring activity that raises awareness about marine protected areas.

The Aquarium also gifted us materials for an activity called Fishing for a Change, where the children can see the effects that certain fishing practices have on the local marine life.

Mr. Smith on the boat to Catalina

The Boeing Teacher Institute was not only educational, but also it was a blast! The best part is that I now have a real enthusiasm about teaching marine science. Hopefully this enthusiasm will translate to the students in my class and they will become ocean advocates who appreciate our World Ocean as much as I do.