On Saturday April 20, 2019 WILDCOAST partnered with the Fleet Science Center’s Better Education for Women in Science and Engineering (BE WiSE) Program to introduce 30 high school women to careers in marine biology and conservation through an immersive Shoreline Laboratory in La Jolla. This opportunity is part of WILDCOAST’s Explore My Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) Project, dedicated to strengthening the new generation of coastal and marine stewards in San Diego County and helping to conserve and manage the region’s 11 MPAs that together comprise more than 17,700 acres of shoreline and marine ecosystems.
During the excursion students had the opportunity to receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, a research pier on the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus. Students learned about the weather monitoring equipment located on the pier, how the pier is designed to pump sea water from the ocean into the experimental aquarium, and even got a chance to see the crane hoist that has the ability to lift research boats, such as the Millennium Falcon, on and off the pier into the water. To top off the experience, a whale made an appearance near the end of the pier, spouting water and showing students its tail as it dove down in search of food.
Students then explored the nearby Hubbs experimental aquarium and discussed ongoing research with sea stars, sea urchins, and the students’ favorite, cuttlefish, before moving down to the beach to collect their own data. Equipped with the knowledge from the morning, students set off along the beach to collect human use data for WILDCOAST’s statewide community science project, MPA Watch.
Women make up less than 30% of the science and engineering workforce in the United States and even among those women who obtain a college degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field, only 26% end up employed in a STEM career. This is why introducing young women to careers in science and engineering through immersive experiences such as WILDCOAST’s Explore My MPAs Project and the Fleet Science Center’s BE WiSE Program are so important.
“A scientist looks like ME!” remarked one of the young women after participating in WILDCOAST’s Shoreline Laboratory.
“A scientist can be anyone, as long as they are asking questions and exploring the world around them. It is so important to understand that science is a part of my everyday life and believe that I can be a scientist if I want to,” claimed another student.
Are you interested in helping WILDCOAST and the Be WiSE program save the coast and ocean? Here are some steps these young scientists suggest you take:
-Recycle, or better yet, choose reusable items whenever possible.
-Pick up trash and make sure it gets in the proper bin so it does not get blown into the ocean.
-Be informed! Learn about MPAs and enjoy respectfully. A great resource for San Diego County MPAs may be found here.
-Support young women in science and engineering. Encourage young women to participate in programs such as WILDCOAST’s Explore My MPAs Project and the Fleet Science Center’s BE WiSE Program and consider donating to keep these programs available for our future scientists and engineers!
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