“I’ve learned that it makes it harder for them to build their shells so they can’t protect themselves as well, and they are most likely to die.”

“We are learning about how the control and the PH affect the ocean.”

6th grader at Kodiak Middle School is learning about the cause and effect of Ocean Acidification. The unit is taught by Dr. Switgard Duesterloh, Marine Biologist and leader of the Kodiak Ocean Science Discovery Program. She’s teaching what she hopes will be future scientists and stewards to help save our planet. The students fertilize and hatch green sea urchin larva in their experiments.

“Here we have a group that is testing the PH 7.8; one group blew bubbles into the water; which also changes the PH. Another group tried adding lemon juice to the water to change the PH that way.”

Unfortunately, for the larva in the lemon water, they did not make it. Switgard says that even no result is still good science.

“In the group that is working in the classroom right now, these students did temperature experiments. The group of boys here are comparing control in the refrigerator to raising the sea urchin larva at room temperature. These girls over there, they had their larva set on the windowsill, which is a lot warmer of course. So different students came up with different ideas, and that is the whole purpose of this project-based learning. The student develops a curiosity and follows their ideas.”

One group added seaweed to the larva’s water.

“It takes out the carbon dioxide and puts in oxygen and makes it a more basic liquid. They are surviving better in the seaweed, then in the controlled and the acidic water.”

Some students had never heard of Ocean Acidification prior to the unit, other knew a little. The kids were quick to give their opinions on causes of climate change.

“How do you not believe in something that is happening? That’s my question.”

“Some people believe that the world is a straight line.”
“That is true!”

The students came up with ideas on how to prevent changes harming our oceans and planet.

“If we can make less global warming than less C02 will get into the water, and that will help a lot.”

“Plant more trees, because they put more C02 into our atmosphere a take away the things that take it out.”

“We could stop using cars that use gas, and instead use electric cars.”
“Ride bikes.”

“Yeah ride a bike, people!”


Alaska Fish Radio’s Stephanie Mangini