25,000th Ocean Steward
O'Neill Sea Odyssey provides a hands-on educational experience to encourage the protection and preservation of our living sea and communities.
The O'Neill Sea Odyssey program is conducted on board the Team O'Neill catamaran with follow-up lessons at the shore-side Education Center at the Santa Cruz Harbor. It is free of charge, but students earn their way into the program by performing a project to benefit their community. OSO also provides online resources for teachers and students that can be used to create a sustained oceanography program with components both inside and outside the classroom.
The O'Neill Sea Odyssey curriculum is taught in a stimulating and intimate learning environment which provides an experience that lasts a lifetime. The program’s curriculum is designed to support the educational goals of the schools that participate, and each of the subjects taught align with both California state and federal education standards. The three subjects are marine biology, marine and watershed ecology, and navigation/mathematics. At each learning station the students record data pertaining to the subject matter of the station.
The Marine Biology lesson includes the life cycles of plankton, their role in the food web and the unique chemical and physical balance that helps maintain life in the sea. Students participate in a plankton tow and the specimen is taken back to the education center for further examination.
Students learn information about the Monterey Bay Sanctuary’s marine life and habitats by experiencing them first-hand from the bow of the catamaran. Discussion includes the kelp forest, marine mammals, human influence on our marine habitat and ecosystems, threats to the bay, and ideas for conservation and preservation.
Hand-held magnetic compasses, GPS, Radar and nautical charts are used to teach OSO students both modern and traditional forms of navigation. Students use hand-held compasses to take bearings on local landmarks and triangulate their position on a nautical chart.
The O'Neill Sea Odyssey Student Survey showed that there were substantial changes in students’ environmental knowledge and behavior after participating in the program. Before participating in the OSO program, an average of 73% of students agreed with the survey questions (indicating that they knew a lot about the ocean and storm drains and behaved in environmentally responsible ways), which increased to 95% after attending the program.
The Student Survey results were also analyzed to see whether economic background had any effect on students’ survey responses. Student groups were divided into three income levels (lower, middle, and higher) and all three income groups’ survey responses were analyzed.
In a change from last year, all income groups saw similar improvement in their agreement with the overall survey results. Before the program began, a similar percentage of students from lower, middle, and high income groups agreed with the survey questions overall (all three groups were between 69% and 72%). After participating in the program, students from all income groups demonstrated similar levels of improvement, agreeing 94% of the time.
In summary, Student Survey results suggest that the OSO program succeeded in bringing all students to a higher level of environmentally-conscious behavior and knowledge despite some factors (such as economic background) that may have limited how much environmental awareness a student had before attending the program.