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When it's winter, the big blue boat explores our California Delta: the MSI crew tells us more!

Marine Science Instructor D.J. with the R/V Robert G. Brownlee
I think one of the most fascinating things about this program is that you’re teaching local kids about one of the most important resources in California. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta services communities all over the state, a fresh water resource of great value to all Californians. During the hydrology station, I can see that “a-ha moment” when students realize their influence on their water. Teaching these students is important because we’re empowering them with more knowledge of what’s in their own backyard. –Science Instructor, D.J.

It's breezy, rainy, and cold during the winter in Antioch, California. But the weather can't shake the students' excitement to hop aboard a boat (for many, for the first time) to explore local marine life. Every winter, the R/V Robert G. Brownlee (a.k.a., the big blue boat ) leaves it's home in Redwood City, CA to dock where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers meet, bringing the Delta Discovery Voyage program to nearly 4,000 fifth grade students all over Contra Costa County. Students explore their local environment and learn how special this place is, but also how critical this water source is to the entire state. Students cycle through four learning stations: ichthyology, hydrology, plankton and benthic (the Delta floor).

Marine Science Institute's expert staff shared what they do during this specialized program, their highlights, what they teach, and how it is especially relevant to the inquisitive students they serve.

Maddie, Marine Science Instructor
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is an important drinking water resource for a lot of Californians. Students are discovering their connection to this place. They learn that taking care of the Delta directly affects their health, and the heath of other Californians. Not just that, they also learn that it affects people across the country since California supplies half of the fresh produce in the United States, and water here is used for agriculture. This is an awesome program for fifth grade students as they're enthusiastic about science, eager to learn, and excited to see what's out there! --Science Instructor, Maddie

Maria, Marine Science Instructor
Often, in everyday life, we don’t always recognize the environment as our home, and as something we need to take care of. But I feel that kids really connect with this concept, especially when on the boat, this idea becomes very real to them. On the water, they can directly see how they can influence the environment. We talk a lot about the importance of conservation and what we can do to keep our water clean. I especially love seeing students’ reaction when discovering plankton. My favorite thing about this program is showing students that there's more life here than they might have realized. –Science Instructor, Maria

Brian, Marine Science Instructor
When I first started teaching this program, I learned a lot, too! I learned about household hazardous waste: what it is, what it does to the environment, and how to handle it safely. I learned how to adjust my own habits, and it’s great to share this information with students, teaching them what actions they can take to help preserve their water source. Students get hands-on activities in nature, a chance to see what’s really out here, learn how we use water, and learn how our everyday actions affect the water and the animals in this important habitat. –Science Instructor, Brian

The Marine Science Institute has been able to provide the Delta Discovery Voyage program to Contra Costa students through the generous support of the following donors: Contra Costa Water District, Delta Diablo, Central Contra Costa Sanitation District, Mt. View Sanitation District and the Lesher Foundation.

By Naomi Deal


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