Education's Unsung Heroes Awards

Kenneth R. Weemhoff

Spanish River Community High School
Boca Raton, Florida

Project Description

Man's activities combined with natural disasters have led to the deterioration of our local reef system. Therefore a group of Spanish River High School seniors who are serious about pursuing careers in Marine Biology and Environmental Conservation have been selected to continue the one year old "Artificial Reef Construction and Deployment Project" offered though the school under the course title "Research III and IV". Students plan to build numerous "Reef Balls", a modular reef concept, and then deploy them off the coast of Boca Raton on a student permitted artificial reef site sometime in May of 1998. During this school year, these students will continue to study and monitor the development of the artificial reef which was deployed off the coast of Palm Beach by last year's class in order to determine its effectiveness.

In addition, students will work with top local marine scientists on various environmental research projects and plan to enter their work in the local science fair in February of 1998. The students will serve as positive role models for numerous younger school children by giving presentations to elementary and middle school classes and educating them about the environment and the artificial reef project. It is our hope that this will bring about additional environmental awareness among these younger students.

As far as we know, this is the only program of its type offered anywhere in the United States.


Benefits to Students

The Artificial Reef Construction and Deployment Project is a senior honors level science class offered at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton. The eight students enrolled in this program share information with other students and the community . Students are scheduled to speak with numerous elementary and middle school classes in our regional vicinity about our project and the local environment. By conducting classes for the youth, we are able to teach others about the underwater world and relay personal experience which cannot be found in any textbook. Students encourage others to join them in community beach clean-up efforts which increases respect and concern for the environment. The Research III and IV students are actively involved in several additional marine-related projects which also serve as an example for others in the community and enhances environmental consciousness. By generating an interest in environmental conservation, others can readily employ our projects and help to maintain the beauty of our underwater ecosystem. The evaluation of this program will be judged by our accomplishments. Listed below are some of what was accomplished by the 1997/98 class. This years class hope to even more successful.

Use of Funds

Obviously a project of this type requires funding. We need money to purchase materials and tools for the actual construction, to rent flat bed semi trucks to transport the "Reef Balls" to the deployment loading site, and for the rental of the ocean barge which is used in the actual deployment. We estimate that we will need at least $6000 to complete our goal of deploying 50 - 60 "Reef Ball" on our Boca Raton artificial reef site. We presently have acquired approximately $2000. Therefore, if we were to receive your award of $2000 we would be within $2000 of our funding goal If we were to receive your top award of $25000, we would increase the scale of our program and recruit other schools in the county to participate in our efforts.