Reef Ecology and Sustainability (in Bonaire)

This combined science and English course explores reef ecology and human relationship to the sea. In addition to the study of Derek Walcott’s poetry, students will study a dynamic mixture of marine studies, physics, biology, chemistry, ocean science, ecology, and technology. This trip is designed to give students a unique and close-up immersive experience on the Caribbean island of Bonaire and in the waters surrounding it. Field work and environmental service components include coral restoration projects in the laboratory and underwater; in-water sea turtle surveys; scientific data collection of invasive species, coral health, and marine life; and beach, mangrove, and underwater cleanups. All students must know how to swim and must demonstrate competency and comfort with scuba diving in the George School pool prior to the trip. Students who are not scuba certified will be trained on campus as part of the pre-travel coursework by a PADI-certified scuba instructor, and, by the end of the course, will receive their PADI Open Water Diver (OWD) certification. The immersive experience has set a goal of being 100% carbon neutral. To that end, students must demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship by altering some of their personal habits and behaviors to completely offset the negative environmental impact of traveling to Bonaire.

Prior to acceptance for the trip, students must (1) complete a medical questionnaire, (2) swim 200m unassisted, (3) float for 10 minutes, and (4) pass a 60-second snorkel test. While on the trip, students must be able to carry their own scuba gear (approximately 50 pounds).

Students earn 1 credit in science, 1 credit in English, and fulfill their service requirement. IB diploma candidates will be able to use this experience for their Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) project. This immersion-term course is cross-listed as SCI990B (science) and ENG990B (English). A travel-abroad course, it requires parental consent.

Students on the trip may apply for an Independent PE in the fall for 0.5 credits.

Min-Max Credit Hours: 2.0-2.0