Taking a STEP towards protecting coral reefs
The future of the world's coral reefs was the topic of our latest STEP talk, delivered to Year 9 students by sixth form student, Eloise S., who wants to pursue a career in Marine Biology.
Eloise focussed initially on what coral reefs look like today compared to how they used to look in better days and gave great insight into what they are - physical ridges formed by reef-building corals to produce an exquisite underwater ecosystem.
In talking about the thorny subject of their perilous future, (which is threatened not least by the crown-of-thorns starfish), Eloise got the Year 9s thinking about ways in which human activities can help in their protection, from reducing the amount of chemicals discharged into waterways to the sustainable production of seafood.
Eloise spent the summer, and her hard-earned savings, on volunteering to monitor coral reefs in Honduras as a research assistant for PhD and Masters students and told the Year 9 audience:
"I developed a greater sense of independent travelling, and for the first time experienced diving in the ocean, seeing a coral reef and entering the actual world of marine science. It was also the first time I swam beside a barracuda!
"The experience was all that I had hoped for, and I really enjoyed attending lectures to learn more about reefs, sea grass beds and local fish species.
"I was proud to collect data, process it myself with scientific software and know that I was contributing to a database that acts as evidence for improving the local environment.
"And it was a pleasure to share my experience with the Year 9 students and demonstrate what you can achieve if you set your goals and be determined."
The STEP programme, created and nurtured by sixth form student leader, Victoria G., to "Share, Teach, Empower, Progress" now forms the focus of her EPQ. The lunchtime talks by sixth formers continue to interest students lower down the Senior School, with the 'by the students for the students' formula being a resounding success.