Oceanology in Modern Society

Oceanology in Modern Society

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By Dr. Marcos Sommer

The integration of marine science with the wider society and future culture is crucial for our social and economic development, and this integration begins at school. Marine environmental problems, so widespread today, impose the need for education in this sense from the first school levels.

  • In this millennium the most important capital of a country is its knowledge. Knowledge, however, depends on the training of the people capable of producing it.
  • The integration of marine science with the wider society and future culture is crucial for our social and economic development, and this integration begins at school.
  • Marine environmental problems, so widespread today, impose the need for education in this sense from the first school levels.
  • The teaching of marine sciences does not consist only of inserting disciplines in the study programs in school and secondary education, but the inclusion of science from basic education must necessarily be associated with a policy of teacher training.
  • Greater articulation between schools (primary and secondary) and scientific and technological institutions of Oceanology should be promoted, based on the accompaniment of scientific teachers and researchers to the work of teachers with children and young people.
  • One of the purposes of science education in school should be to provide the next generation of citizens who choose not to continue their formal science studies, the means by which they can understand marine science and how it works.
  • Future scientists will have to overcome the challenge of explaining their specialty in terms that other scientists and non-scientists can understand.

In Latin America, in general, little emphasis is placed on science teaching in basic education, despite the strong presence of technology in people's lives and the central place that technological innovation occupies as an element of competition between companies and nations in this millennium.

The primary and secondary school student is a born “researcher” who acquires his experience in the environment. As a consequence of this "investigation" he is acquiring an experience and by relating to the people and objects that surround him, he increases his conception of both the environment and himself (Fig. 1).

This relationship that the child is taking with the objects that surround him, will help him in that curiosity that he has to organize his observations and reasoning. The development of their creative faculties is of exceptional importance and that is why they should be developed from school and the sooner the better (P. L. Kapitza, 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics). For this reason, if the child or young person becomes familiar with science early on, they will have greater chances of developing, both in this field and in others (Sommer, 2003) (Fig. 2).

A second reason is that scientific knowledge and new technologies are essential for the population to be able to position itself against processes and innovations on which it needs to have an opinion in order to legitimize them. This is the case of the use of nuclear energy and genetically modified food, such as biological cloning.

In this sense, the domain of scientific knowledge is part of the exercise of citizenship in the context of democracy (Sommer, 2006).

One of the sources of knowledge is located in the conversation that takes place between schoolchildren, high school, students and other people. If, in addition, we take into account the role of experience as a mobilizer or provider of content, we will have in sum a possible way of creating knowledge in society. We are referring to communities of practice that are based on these two premises as defining elements of these processes.

The creation of knowledge requires a habitat that makes it possible. Communities of practice have many of the features where knowledge flows and where knowledge sharing and creation occurs most effectively.

A community of practice is based on the fact that learning implies collective participation and that the acquisition of knowledge and skills is considered a process of a social and not an individual nature.

Overall, curricular content, textbooks, and instruction continue to lack an appropriate focus and quantity over quality prevails, often with an emphasis on learning responses and memorization rather than exploring questions. questions, in reading rather than in practice. They do not encourage cooperative work by students, the ability to freely share ideas and information with each other, or the use of modern tools to expand their intellectual capacity.

What do students have to learn? Rather, the question is what they have to be able to do to function in today's world because what it is precisely about is that they are able to do and not to know. If you put the word "know" in that question (what they should know), what comes up is an endless list of useless things. Knowing is necessary but not enough. The curriculum we have is not the result of chance: Today we do not teach what is important but what is easy to measure in an exam that is an atrocity. Make no doubt that it is much easier to evaluate a math problem than a person's ability to be a liver or a team's creativity.

There is nothing more important than education (Fig. 3). There are several essential things to survive: If you don't eat, you obviously die. If you don't sleep, it is proven that you die. But if you don't educate yourself, you also die. If you are not able to learn what a red light means, if you cannot distinguish a poisonous mushroom from one that is not, or if you cannot learn to swim, you have a very good chance of losing your life. You are what you have learned and you will be what you are capable of learning in the future. If the world changed drastically and it is inconceivable for us to live as our ancestors did at the beginning of the SXX, then we should be ashamed that our education continues to be anchored in patterns of underdevelopment.

When we teach marine science in a context far removed from our daily reality, many schoolchildren and high school students lose interest. And if we don't have that motivation, all the effort and preparation of the teacher will be in vain. It is crucial, therefore, to highlight the importance of marine science and its role in the lives of schoolchildren and high school students. Our schoolchildren and students also need evidence that shows the real scope and limitations of marine science and scientists (Fig. 4). To achieve these last two objectives, nothing better than having the collaboration of the researchers themselves and the engineers (M.Sommer, 2006).

In a classroom where the goal is scientific training, learning takes time. In science learning, students need time to explore, make observations, follow wrong clues, test ideas, repeat a process over and over again, ask questions, read, and discover, not just memorize science facts.

Thirty fifth grade classes involved in the Kids do Ecology program ( participated in a trash pickup along the beaches of Santa Barbara, CA . Instead of simply picking up all the trash they found, they also decided to do a study of all the trash they collected on the beach so that they could learn more about it.

The data from these excursions can be used to interactively learn about the use of data tables, to graph data found in a table, and to understand more about the different types of graphs.

If schoolchildren take the time to observe, explore and understand, for example, Integrated Coastal Zone Management, to model the coastal system based on their observations (natural, economic and social), and to test their predictions , they can get lost in other topics. But for the rest of their lives, nonetheless, these students will have a firm foundation to learn other ideas throughout the curriculum. They will have the advantage of understanding natural phenomena, in environmental science, and insight in physics.

Understanding for example the lunar phases can benefit students even in the science of oceanology, in understanding the tides and currents.

The actions of man were always insignificant, compared to the magnitude of the marine ecosystem, everything was compensated by nature. The sea and the atmosphere behave as infinite, swallowing the undesirable by-products of human activity. But we became too powerful (Fig. 6). We are many and we handle energies capable of altering natural balances. National use and ecosystem management have been at the forefront for years. We are currently experiencing the fragility of marine balances, the answers are given by the almost dead Indian and Baltic Seas, the North Sea, whose fish resources are tragically declining, the Mediterranean seriously affected and the dying reefs of the entire world.

Humanity must lay the foundations for sustainable development, which, as the World Commission on Environment and Development points out, means: "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." This means at least trying to control the hyper-consumption of developed societies and powerful groups in any society and curbing the population explosion on a planet with limited resources.

In the context of the organization that wants to learn continuously, the communities of practice would be composed of groups of professionals who transform their personal know-how into collective values ​​(common knowledge of the group), which, over time, can become knowledge shared identity and signs of identity of the Administration (collective corporate practices) (Fig. 7).

Communities gathered around a common task and objective are particularly practical, if we consider that the vision is complementary to that which considers that professionals learn when they apply, from their own experience, what they have learned. Here, the knowledge associated with practice, regardless of where and how it has been acquired, is decisive for learning. Knowledge creation occurs in practice (Tab. 1).

Tab. 1. Scientific method. Significant patterns.

For these reasons, communities of practice are a workspace that helps the Administration learn and progress from some principles of social learning, such as:

  • People learn in society, while maintaining identity. They are formed around themes that unite their members individually. Knowledge resides mainly in people and not in machines or databases, since much of the knowledge is tacit. Therefore, the relational attitude of people is key to generate, share and exploit it.
  • They learn from interaction, no longer from teacher to apprentice (a concept more typical of the traditional vision) but by building, with their peers, in a shared way, cognitive structures, work experiences, from the experience of other people in situations Similar.

It is a broad point of view on learning, which expands without replacing the traditional vision: anywhere, at any time (inside and outside the Administration), in spaces expressly enabled to learn, or in other more informal spaces.

Based on the experiences of each group, an attempt will be made to learn by doing, linking learning with the resolution of possible difficulties that prevent reaching the Administration's objectives.

Thus, collaborative work is understood as a pattern of relationship between different people in an organization in which interaction and sharing prevail to achieve a common purpose.

In a world that is trying to cope with a major financial and economic crisis, simultaneously with the deterioration of the environment, climate change, tensions and social conflicts, there is a growing global consensus that the international community must unite to build a better future together (Fig. 8). This consensus was already foreseen in the decision by which the United Nations General Assembly created the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), which runs from 2005 to 2014, in recognition of the essential role that education plays in development matter. But this is not just any education. It is about learning with a view to change and learning to change. In particular, it is about the processes and contents of education that will help us to coexist in a sustainable way "(Matsuura, 2009).

The situation is so serious that since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, a decisive action was demanded by educators, so that citizens have a correct perception of what this situation is, and can participate in informed decision-making (United-Nations, 1992).

On the other hand, and echoing this appeal, the magazine, International Journal of Science Education, decided to dedicate a special issue to "Environment and Education", in which the lack of research in this field was confirmed (Gayford, 1993). This same situation can be seen in an analysis of the articles published in the most important international journals in the field of science didactics (Edwards, 2000) and although with certain advances, at present the prospects are not yet promising (Fernández Nistal MT, et al 2009).

"There are more than 60 million teachers in the world today and an untold number of educators in non-formal contexts. Those professionals work in the 'local' sphere, but they have to deal with problems of 'global' scope. For their work didactics is relevant and has reality for their students, these teachers must take advantage of the contributions, contexts and local values. For this reason we must always remember that teachers are people, they are part of teaching and learning institutions, they are members of the community and of society, and they need to receive support to carry out their task "(Matsuura, 2009).

Britain has a long tradition in the education and training of scientists, engineers and mathematicians which has contributed greatly to the economic stability of the country. However, although many young people are in higher education, very few of them choose mathematics, physics or chemistry as a university career (HESA, 2005), and this fact causes a shortage of this type of professionals to face, for example, the problems of education. present climate change. Many countries in Latin America also present this problem at the level of science. The key to changing this trend is to inspire and enthuse young people towards science and technology throughout their entire school and high school education (Fig. 9).

A survey of 50 schools across Britain showed that although most students enjoyed learning science in school, very few wanted to study science afterwards (Bevins et al., 2005). In particular, physics was perceived as a complex and difficult subject.

Students recognized that the opportunity to access science and technology professionals would increase their interest and enthusiasm while allowing them to gain valuable information about those careers. They also expressed that the presence of an expert in the classroom would help to place the concepts in their natural context and would change the classes.

“When we are doing things like gases, if an expert were in the class helping, they could teach us why we use gases, how they use them in their work - this would make the concept more interesting” comment from a 14-year-old student.

“It would be a good idea to ask them questions about their jobs and find out what they do, how they do it, how they learned it and how much they earn”, a 13-year-old student commented.

The students also suggested that professional visits to schools or school visits to workplaces would help them learn about the specific characteristics of those jobs.

“It would be a good idea to visit a university to see what they do. It would be very interesting." comment from a 12-year-old student (Brodie M., 2008).

Researchers participating in the Residence project ( and the Express Yourself conferences enabled students to make first contact with science and technology professionals and develop their own ideas about these and their fields of work.

Researchers in Residence is a project that brings some of Britain's most creative researchers to institutes. The participating researchers are extremely passionate about their work topics and their enthusiasm can ignite a lively interest in science among young people.

Science, technology and mathematics predoctoral and postdoctoral researchers volunteered to spend four to five days at the teaching centers. Researchers could support classes, give presentations, or attend job camps. After this experience, many of the researchers continued to get involved in the activities of the schools.

Among the reasons given by the researchers to participate in this project we can cite:

1) the opportunity to act as a positive role model;

2) demystify the investigation;

3) improve the image of scientists; Y

4) convey your enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In addition, researchers can also benefit from testing and improving their way of communicating, getting up close to the world of education, improving their CV - or simply breaking routine.

In this millennium science is moving faster than ever; a stirring discovery follows the previous one with incredible speed. School teachers have trouble keeping up, and many students find science classes "boring."

We urgently need to involve young people with science. Motivating young people to become interested in learning and understanding science in schools and high schools is important not only because science careers are exciting and rewarding, but also because young people need to know how science and technology are changing. our world, his world! " (Fig. 10).

There seems to be a gap between the information-processing capabilities and skills that future scientists will need and the education they receive. As the world changes, we must ask ourselves the important question: what does science education exist for?

One of the purposes of science education in school should be to provide the next generation of citizens who choose not to continue their formal science studies, the means by which they can understand science and how it works. Each individual should be given the tools to appreciate how science in the real world affects them and how they can form their own opinions on scientific and technological issues.

The second purpose of science in school is to reach that small proportion of students who advance to higher education to study science and / or work in science and technology. For them, building a basic knowledge base and an understanding of the scientific approach is important.

Science today and in the future will demand increasingly high levels of specialized competence from scientists, along with an ability to work with other scientists outside of their own expertise. A natural consequence of this specialization within multidisciplinary teams is that future scientists will have to overcome the challenge of explaining their specialty in terms that other scientists and non-scientists can understand. Chemists will have to cooperate with psychologists, molecular biologists with nanotechnologists, and neuroscientists with economists, until the boundaries between disciplines are blurred. Even with the introduction of new technologies, communication and interpersonal skills are going to be more important than ever.

The marine science scientist of the future will have to step up and engage with the broader society if science and technology are to maintain their place at the heart of modern culture. The majority who did not follow a scientific education will look to the minority to help them make decisions and formulate opinions. However, the enthusiastic scientist will have to take his responsibility very seriously - it is not about telling people what to think.

The future scientist will be required to take a more leading role to ensure that all members of society are involved with science. Non-scientists should feel that they can contribute to a scientific debate with confidence in their opinions, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the hypothesis that science makes a positive contribution to society. The integration of science with society in general and future culture is crucial for our social and economic development, and this integration begins at school.

Dr. Marcos Sommer - Oceanographers Without Borders


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Video: MODG Earth Science - Intro to OCEANOGRAPHY (June 2022).


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