Ocean Oasis, a stunning film about the magic of Baja California, Mexico and the Gulf of California, explores these areas through several themes that have global, as well as local, implications. On a geological level, tectonic forces and weathering shape and change the entire globe. The film illustrates how geographical location and circulation of the atmosphere affect climate. Life forms adapt to their diverse habitats in amazing ways. Many human activities affect local ecosystems and the consequences of these activities can be far-reaching. The activities in the teacher’s guide have a local connection to help students make conceptual bridges between their immediate region and Ocean Oasis. Targeted for grades 4-8, many of the activities provide an opportunity to discuss conservation and the human impact on natural resources, regardless of locale. Each teacher receives the Teacher’s Guide and a copy of the film for their school. Grades 4–8.
The science activities always surprise the teachers because they are simple and yet allow understanding natural phenomena in a hands-on, participatory way. Teachers are always amazed at the beauty of their natural environment when they see it in the film and express how connected they feel to the ecosystems they didn’t even know existed.
An activity that most moves participants in an Ocean Oasis workshop is “Art with Natural Materials.” This activity, which is done at the end of the workshop, includes expressing with charcoal, chalk and other natural materials what their region means to them. It elicits love and a need to take care of their environment that they didn’t know they had.
In December 2003, PROBEA received an invitation to join the Steinbeck-Ricketts Sea of Cortés expedition re-enactment by collaborating in designing and implementing an environmental education component. The purpose of the expedition from Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University was to retrace Steinbeck’s and Ricketts’ original expedition, exploring the Baja California coastline to see what had changed through new eyes and new scientific techniques.
Jon Christensen, Director of the expedition, wanted local students to have the opportunity to participate with the scientists as in the original expedition. PROBEA’s Ocean Oasis environmental education program in La Paz, Loreto and Santa Rosalía served as a base. Teachers from our workshops selected students in each area to participate with the scientists and crew of the Gus D. on the “Gran Día de Ciencia”— the day the boat arrived in their port. To prepare students for this unique opportunity, PROBEA presented four-hour Ocean Oasis workshops in the designated areas. Students completed assignments integrating art, literature and science. From those assignments 20–25 students from each of the three areas were selected to join the Sea of Cortés team on the “Gran Día de Ciencia” when they completed an intertidal survey. After students completed their surveys, they presented what they learned to the remaining workshop participants and other audiences. In La Paz, Loreto and Santa Rosalía, a total of 326 students participated in the preparatory activities, and 67 students participated in the “Gran Día de Ciencia.”