Rowe partners with Scripps to integrate marine life studies


The Rancho Santa Fe School District doesn’t devote one week to marine studies anymore. Instead a new partnership with Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is helping marine science be a part of the curriculum year-round at R. Roger Rowe.

“There’s a long history of ocean science being taught here,” said Roberta Dean, the Scripps ocean partnership coordinator. “The kids and the teachers both know a lot about ocean science as it builds every year. By the time they get to middle school they can understand something like climate change because they have a pretty extensive background.”

Since 1993, Dean has worked with Rowe teachers and staff on Marine Activities Research and Education (MARE) week, typically held in spring. Dean said there would still be a MARE week but it will look different. It will be more of a celebration of everything the students have learned throughout the year instead of packing it all into one week.

All grade levels will be integrating marine habitat studies into their curriculum, through things like art projects or field studies. For example, as the third graders study the Kumeyaay Indians, they will take a field trip to the Batiquitos Lagoon to learn about how the Indians lived there, particularly how they used shellfish.

Where there will be the biggest difference is in middle school; in the past they have not participated as actively in MARE Week. Now seventh graders will tackle coral reefs and eighth graders will study polar seas.

“They will look at what’s going on with climate change like ice melting in the polar seas and ocean acidification in the tropical seas,” Dean said.

Eventually, Dean said she’d love to get students into the lab at Scripps and do hands-on work with researchers.

The Rowe staff had a small kick-off for the new partnership by volunteering at San Elijo Beach during the Coastal Clean-up.

A larger launch will come after the holidays.