Students Dive in to Educators' Role
of Belize, the small tropical jewel on the Caribbean coast,
rely on the income generated by the increasing tourists who
dive and snorkel along its pristine coral reef, few of the
country’s natives have ever studied the natural wonder.
changing thanks to an annual program called “Coral Reef
Ed-Ventures,” in which several Smith students travel
to the Central American country for six weeks each summer
to educate local children about the undersea ecosystem there
and ways to preserve it.
The program, which
began in 2000 with only five students, has grown each year
in enrollment, accommodating 70 students this summer, and
adding an advanced course for children who have mastered the
information in the basic course.
them to become caretakers of this natural resource,”
said Allen Curran, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Geology,
who has helped coordinate the program since its inception.
Six Smith students
traveled to San Pedro, in Ambergris Cay, Belize, this summer
to participate in the educational program.
While the children
in Ambergris Cay understand that the coral reef is important
for their economy, many of them had never seen it up close
before enrolling in “Coral Reef Ed-Ventures.”
The natives generally do not swim and the glass-bottom boat
trip to the marine reserve is, for many, their first time
seeing it up close, says Curran.
For the Smith
students, the Belize trip provides a chance to use their knowledge
in a teaching setting, and one in which there are significantly
fewer resources than in the United States, said Curran.
than teaching conceptual information about the environment,
we are teaching them about their own backyard,” said
Katie Morrice ’07. Also teaching in Belize this summer
were rising seniors Kelsey Winsor, Whitney Dorer, Erin Benger,
Sharon Beauregard, and Emily Tyner ’06.