News & Views

Seventh Graders Discuss Climate Change, Ocean Chemistry and Coral Reef Health with Chemical Oceanographer

New Canaan Country School seventh-grade science students discussed ocean acidification and the impact of rising CO2 levels on the Earth’s atmosphere, plantlife and oceans with chemical oceanographer and Texas A&M Oceanography Professor Dr. Katie Shamberger on April 11. 
“As we move on from studying the causes of climate change to the various effects, I  wanted students to hear about one of the threats to our ocean ecosystems directly from a scientist dedicated to studying the issue,” said Science Teacher Sanj Maliakal.

The students had spent the prior trimester studying a variety of environmental issues and were familiar with the terms and concepts presented. Dr. Shamberger discussed anthropogenic (man-made) CO2 sources and sinks, trends in global warming since the 1880’s and how the increase in CO2 is increasing the acidity of our oceans and in turn, interfering with the process of calcification in organisms like corals and shellfish. Students came prepared with questions, asking Dr. Shamberger about her methodology, her governmental research funding sources, her travel scope and schedule as well as her thoughts about disappearing habitats.

“Of the places you have seen and researched, what place do you find most alarming for coral reef health?” asked Cullen Smith of New Canaan.

“While coral reefs everywhere are impacted by the effect of rising CO2 levels, the one I am most personally familiar with is a reef structure in the Caribbean,” said Dr. Shamberger. “I spent time there early in my career and when I went back years later, they had greatly deteriorated. In some places they were completely gone.”

Additionally, students expressed interest in Dr. Shamberger’s life and journey to becoming a research scientist. 

“It’s important to us that students see scientists as real people with real lives, and that through interactions such as this, they know that a career in science or research is possible for anyone who desires it,” said Middle School Science Teacher Lindsay Frey who facilitated the opportunity through personal and professional connections.
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New Canaan Country School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin and are afforded all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, or disability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid policies or any other school-administered programs.