As we watched Shark Week from the safety of our sofas, FFT Fellow Edwin Yoo (Dorchester, MA) chose to get a little closer to the action. He is currently conducting field research on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System in conjunction with Project AWARE, an initiative taking action to create change for the ocean and communities that depend on it. In Utila, Honduras, he is performing citizen science data collection for coral reef health to develop case studies based on theoretical chemical and biological principles associated with diving.
Codman Academy Charter Public School students from Boston’s south side ALL enroll in four-year colleges, despite entering ninth grade two or more years below reading level. Fifty percent of these students sit in Ed’s chemistry and biology courses. Combine a Caribbean heritage shared by the majority of his students with project based learning and the school’s nearby saltwater marshes and Ed’s fellowship hits a sweet spot of engagement.
“I designed this experience around global climate change and how that impacts the biochemistry of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system (i.e. effect of temperature on O2 solubility, the effect of increasing concentration of CO2 on acidic levels of oceans that negatively impacts marine life) that protects the coastal cities and communities in the Caribbean Islands and Central America,” said Ed. “The narrative of this abstract chemistry theory becomes more deeply personal as it is an issue that is extremely critical to the families of my students who have connections to this region.”
Ed’s new case studies will support the ecology portion of his biology curriculum, specifically on topics of coral bleaching, sustainable fishing, climate change and invasive species. He is also earning his Divemaster certification that requires familiarity with a hyperbaric chamber used for decompression illness, information also applicable in Chemistry classes. Ed’s long term goal is to offer Codman students “Discover SCUBA” classes at the Dorchester YMCA pool.
“My certification will allow me to support Codman’s Wellness Program, in addition to the sciences,” said Ed. “As a Divemaster, I will be certified to teach snorkeling and introduce SCUBA in a pool setting, providing access to experiences not currently offered in the school and community. SCUBA and snorkeling combine medicine, engineering, marine biology, and chemistry into a single water sport activity. Without professional licensure and training made possible through this fellowship, my students would not likely have any exposure to potential career paths related to marine conservation, medical health industry, and engineering.”