Grouper Moon Project workshop for educators

| 03/12/2013

(CNS): While local populations of Nassau grouper have suffered near catastrophic declines in the region, scientists studying them are doing their best to make sure that the next generation understands the groupers' role in the marine habitat and why they must be preserved. Educator workshops hosted by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) and the Cayman Department of the Environment (DoE) are being offered to teachers this week in both primary and high schools, where they will learn more about the fish and be provided with the tools to pass that knowledge on to students in the classroom. Nearly 20 teachers are participating, representing over 15 schools from Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and the Bahamas.

At the free sessions on the Grouper Education Program, a marine sciences curriculum for students in Years 4 & 5 and Years 12 & 13, teachers will gain the materials and resources necessary for successfully implementing it in Caribbean classrooms. The project focuses on bringing the Nassau grouper into elementary and high school classrooms through lesson plans and interactive live-feed video sessions that connect classrooms with scientists in the field.

According to a release from REEF, the curriculum presents a multi-faceted view of Nassau grouper, in which students create their own understanding of this important fish. Key curricular concepts include the historical role of the species as an artisanal fishery throughout the Caribbean region, the grouper’s value as a keystone predator and its impact on local reef health, its role in today’s tourism-based economy in the Cayman Islands, and the conservation challenges facing Nassau grouper given steep declines in populations. In addition to classroom lessons, the program includes live-feed video sessions that take place at the research site on Little Cayman, allowing the facilitators to bring real-world field science into the classroom.

These video discussions are supplemented with footage of solitary Nassau Grouper on their home reef, and the 4,000+ mass aggregation of Nassau Grouper that gather on the west end of Little Cayman during winter full moons.

While the bulk of the lessons take place over the course of the two weeks in January and February, when REEF scientists and DoE staff are working at the spawning site, they have developed a set of pre-activities to help build background knowledge as well as follow-up lessons to help deepen the students’ learning experience.

The curriculum was developed to complement the research and scientific efforts of the Grouper Moon Project.

Grouper Moon educator, Todd Bohannon, along with Grouper Moon scientists Brice Semmens, Ph.D. (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Ph.D. (REEF), and Bradley Johnson (DoE), have led the educational effort. Activities were developed in consultation with teachers at Cayman Prep on Grand Cayman, Verity Redrup and Brenda Bryce, and Cynthia Shaw, author of the youth fictional book, Grouper Moon.

During these afternoon, hands-on workshops, educators will learn the following:

• How to effectively implement the Grouper Education Program in elementary and high school classrooms.

• Working knowledge of the key historical, scientific, and conservation concepts about Nassau Grouper.

• Technical training in utilizing the GEP blog, the live video-conferencing website, digital video cameras, and your own web camera.

• Educators will also receive access to program materials and technical support.

Bohannon said they were extremely excited to enter this new phase or expansion of the project. "We look forward to working with so many new schools and having the opportunity to share our work with educational institutions throughout the Caribbean," he said.

The Grouper Education Program is a component of the Grouper Moon Project and is supported by a grant from the Disney Wildlife Conservation Program.

If you areinterested in finding out more about either of these workshop, please contact our Education Coordinator, Todd Bohannon at

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Category: Science and Nature

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Disappointing to see only 20 teachers signed up across all our schools, public and private.  Is this not a priority for public schools? Somebody tell me please. Its information which helps our children grow up more aware about their own part of the globe. Is this not key to cultivating more engaged young people in matters about their environment?

    What was it that we heard at the start of the school year? Our children don't go to school to learn sex education, add to that they don't go now it seems to learn about species critical to our marine ecosystem.  I can conclude no time available to fit these two things in. 

    What do they go to school for please? Not to learn about promoting a healthy living perspective for themselves? Not to learn about caring for the marine environment so critical to our presentand future.  So again, tell what they go to school for please?  When will we engage young Caymanians in their own development on several levels? 

    I am noticing a clarion call on several fronts about our apparent unwillingness to embrace change. We are currently debating the National Conservation Law and the main issue we have is around any hint that could suggest govt might ' take' our land in the name of protecting some aspect of the environment.  What is missing from those conversations is any acknowledgement of how important such a piece of legislation is. We have 'run' wild like our Almost extinct Nassau grouper in many respects and want no mandate laid down around our collective responsibility to care for and protect these Cayman Islands. The only difference between us and the groupers is that we have been busy taking them as we please and they have no voice with which to fight back.

    Can we pause and ensure our children know about our environment which includes the Nassau grouper so that they can decide how best to protect these things in the future? We have not done much of a good job thus far and are going down fighting to keep things the way they have generally been. 

    Change is coming, let's be at the forefront in leading otherwise we could find ourselves being dragged into the 21st century. 



  2. Anonymou says:

    Teaching the youth the value of the groupers is a great idea and in the mean time keep the laws in place to protect the grouper from the older people who will fish them out while spawning and then brag about it.

    Don't allow politicians looking for the fishermen vote to play games with protecting the grouper for the next generation of Caymanians.