August 5, 2021

What makes IPSF programs truly special is the incredible educators who bring creative curriculum and unmatched learning opportunities to our students every year. When we first launched our summer program over 20 years ago, we were approached by Mr. Brooks, a veteran teacher at Irvine schools for over 40 years. His passion for teaching and science inspired him to create what is now one of our most popular classes to date: Oceans. The class covers all aspects of the ocean including marine biology, ocean recreation, beach safety, and physical oceanography.

Throughout the class, students investigate the special adaptations of ocean animals and experiment with the physical dynamics of tides, waves, and ocean currents. These skills are then put into real life application through field trips to local beaches where students can snorkel in a kelp forest, surf, stand-up paddle board, and fish. Students also visited the Aquarium of the Pacific where they were tasked with selecting one marine animal from the cold pacific, temperate pacific, and tropical pacific zones. They researched their animals in groups, studied their unique characteristics and adaptations, and presented what they learned in class.

This year, students had the unique opportunity to participate in a lobster egg lab, based on the research of Abigail Sisti. She has been researching American Lobster for her PhD at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester Point, Virginia to understand the impact of climate change on marine invertebrates, especially lobsters and oysters. Ms. Sisti joined the class via Zoom where she discussed her research and how she became interested in the ocean. The class got a special virtual tour of her lab followed by a question-and-answer session led by the students.

These educational experiences would not be possible without the support and vision of educators like Mr. Brooks. By giving students an opportunity to fully immerse themselves into a subject in a fun and encouraging environment, we hope to help students see that STEAM is more than an acronym. Through hands-on classes like Oceans, we can spark an interest in students that extends beyond the summer and inspires the next generation of leaders, creators, and great thinkers.