Smith Lab Helps Spread the Word on Ocean Acidification!

On April 27th Smith Lab Master’s student Susan Kram gave a presentation and demonstration to Ocean Discovery Institute and Birch Aquarium staff, focusing on ocean acidification.  The Smith Lab and Ocean Discovery Institute are partnering together under the funding of a California Sea Grant, to develop an updated ocean acidification curriculum that can be used to help San Diego 6th graders understand this important concept.

Birch Aquarium Staff Members participating in the demonstrations

Birch Aquarium Staff Members participating in the demonstrations

Susan explained to staff members the cause of ocean acidification (the burning of fossil fuels and increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) and how it might affect temperate water organisms, such as the ones that live off the coast of San Diego.  Calcifying organisms, organisms that have a hard shell, are expected to respond negatively to ocean acidification while non-calcifying organisms, such as kelp, are expected to be positively affected or not affected. Susan discussed the research that the Smith Lab is currently conducting and talked about the ongoing pH monitoring that is taking place on the Scripps pier.

IMAG0769To drive the point home the staff members were led through two hands-on activities that could be adapted for use in the classroom.  The activities demonstrated that increased CO2 lowers the pH of seawater and that different types of seaweed will respond differently to ocean acidification.

Now that the Ocean Discovery Institute and Birch Aquarium staff has the most up to date information, they can incorporate these concepts into their lesson plans and share the information with the public.

Written by: Susan Kram