REDONDO BEACH – In an effort to teach children about marine life and boat safety, the King Harbor Boating Foundation (KHBF) announced it has launched a six-month pilot program called Waterfront Education.
The pilot program would turn Redondo Beach’s King Harbor into a “natural classroom” where students interact with the marine environment. Classes began in October as a series of workshop sessions for middle school students.
If the six-month pilot program is successful, KHBF plans to launch the full Waterfront Education curriculum to all schools and school age children in Southern California by 2020.
“The foundation as a whole has an aggressive five year expansion plan that includes educational programs for youth, adults and families of all socio-economic levels,” said Waterfront Education Program Director Elizabeth Bloom.
She added Waterfront Education supports “the intentions of the 21st century education model” identified by the U.S. Department of Education. The model promotes learning environments where students “have engaging and empowering learning experiences” to prepare them to be “active, creative, knowledgeable and ethical participants” in the world.
Accordingly, the natural classroom model of Waterfront Education, Bloom said, would encourage “inquisitive minds and physical activity in the marine environment.”
A program described as “an active and experimental form of education,” Waterfront Education brings the classroom to the water to promote various skills such as collaboration, discovery learning, problem solving and stewardship of the environment.
Instruction is provided by watercraft instructors and marine life educators. Students are taught the connection between science and sailing, ocean literacy and watercraft safety. Kayaks are used as a “classroom” to teach students about local marine life.
Through activities such as boating and surfing, students head out on the water and are taught about ocean and marine life. There is also a science element, as students learn about wind and the coexistence of manmade vehicles with natural elements.
Key points of emphasis in each class include emotional literacy, language arts, communication skills and inquiry based exploration.
“All curriculum areas are infused into a framework where students are actively moving their bodies, outdoors, in a marine environment,” Bloom stated in an email. “Students learn safe boating practices and new water skills while expanding their horizons with their peers.”
KHBF aims to partner with boating and paddleboard organization, community members, corporate sponsors, curriculum collaborators, local education providers, marine life specialists and nonprofits to expand the reach of Waterfront Education.
According to Bloom, the program was named “Waterfront Education” because it could also be identified by its acronym, “WE.”
“The term WE is inclusive and supports the foundation’s mission to engage the community in enjoying and supporting our local ocean waters,” Bloom said.
She added Waterfront Education brings together a coalition of marine educators from across the state, all of whom regularly meet with KHBF members.
Looking ahead, Bloom said the Waterfront Education program will offer a series of educator workshops through various partnerships. The workshops would support the goals of the Department of Education, next generation science standards and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) concepts.
“In these workshops, local educators will be introduced to marine and environmental curriculum to use in their classroom and opportunities to integrate out-of-the-classroom field study onto their projects,” Bloom said.
KHBF was founded by a few members of the King Harbor Yacht Club members as a nonprofit in 2012. Its mission is “aims to promote safe, clean and responsible boating activities, and to foster public interest through community outreach” and “educate about boating activities and stewardship of our marine environment.”
The foundation promotes a public interest in angling, power and paddle craft boating, sailing and other water sports through community outreach events. It also assists other local boating and harbor organizations and encourages educational programs on boating safety, seamanship and marine environment stewardship.
KHBF is primarily funded by grants and individual donations.
In addition to Waterfront Education, Bloom said KHBF will partner with Wounded Heroes of America and other organizations “to get our veterans out on the water.”
On Nov. 8, KHBF partnered with Wounded Heroes of America as a sponsor for the first annual Alive Day Festival. The day included a bicycle ride, barbeque, live music and a bounce house for kids.
For more information about the KHBF, visit khbf.org.