These Are the Tide Pools You Came to See, Right?

Tidepool setup for our outdoor education programs rules of the pools

As the school year draws to an end, so do the Tide Pool Programs here at Yaquina Head. Over these last several weeks, I’ve been involved in outdoor education programs that center around tide pools that were accompanied by various sub-themes that varied based on the age group participating. Everyone from kindergartners to high school seniors had the opportunity to explore the tide pools, as they explored scientific concepts out in the real world examples.

My previous experience with children was limited to elementary and middle school aged groups. All of which was contained in a classroom setting. Not only did I get the chance to show kids a remarkable area for good tide pooling, I got to share the experience of seeing the ocean for the first time with some of the kids! Growing up in southern California, seeing the coast was always a part of growing up. Whether it be for during vacation or for a class, the coast was always a part of my childhood. To be a part of someone’s first experience with the coast is something really special.

From mussels to sea stars, and everything in between, the tide pools sure beat the classroom setting by a long shot! Instead of reading from a textbook or from a PowerPoint presentation, they got the opportunity to feel the animals and got firsthand experience walking on the unique terrain.

I’ve taught in tide pool settings before but the approach taken here was vastly different to programs back home. Even explaining the rules to the visiting schools were taken on a unique approach. Through skits, props, and objectives, the engagement of the kids were all taken into consideration. It’s a type of approach that I personally have never seen back home and would be worth taking back home in some form or another. That’s the point of education after all. To have a topic and theme to convey to the public that isn’t just an ear full of facts or a pamphlet of figures that may mean nothing at all to some.

I was never particularly in favor of the traditional education route early on. Research and fieldwork were always on my horizon; to do research on birds and critters that inhabit the tide pool. However, I’m leaning more and more about education lately. Funny how the very subjects that I studied in college, with the prospect that I would be out in the field or lab, are the very same topics that I would be using to educate the public. I guess these aren’t the same tide pools that I thought I came to see after all.

Robert Vargas
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