OST Professionals Take a Deep Dive into STEAM with Florida Fishing Academy

OST Professionals Take a Deep Dive into STEAM with Florida Fishing Academy

Guest Blog Author: Patricia Sasson, STEAM Specialist, Prime Time Palm Beach County

Prime Time Palm Beach County offers innovative opportunities for out-of-school time (OST) professionals, so they are empowered and equipped to bring new and exciting learning activities to the children and youth who they serve.  Prime Time and 25 STEAM cohort members took to the seas on Saturday, August 26. 2023, for a morning excursion with expanded learning opportunity (ELO) provider Florida Fishing Academy. The three-hour learning experience in the Florida sun was just what Palm Beach County afterschool directors and counselors needed—a fun-filled morning of marine biology, STEAM activity ideas, and time to socialize and collaborate with other STEAM cohort members.

Florida Fishing Academy Program Director Shannon Lalime, Captain Rich Brochu and first mate Tony Rose welcomed the group, representing 13 different afterschool programs, on the Thea Marie, a 50-foot fishing catamaran that is wheelchair accessible, U.S. Coast Guard certified, and was custom built by Captain Rich himself.

Florida Fishing Academy provides afterschool programming through their Mobile Marine Lab and the Angling for a Healthy Future program. Shannon and Captain Rich shared information and content on these two programs for our cohort members as we sailed along the intercoastal and invited them to schedule activities with the youth in their programs for the fall. Several of the program sites shared their youths' experiences with Florida Fishing Academy. These ranged from learning the basics of fishing, to a full day on the ocean with Captain Rich, Shannon and Tony to fish, and swim with their OST friends.

Captain Rich sailed past the Port of Palm Beach and around Peanut Island. The captain also shared a brief history of Peanut Island to give all in attendance a little feel of the ocean waves. Captain Rich sailed just outside of the Lake Worth Inlet to where ocean depth is between 30-50 feet.

Back on the intracoastal, STEAM activity folders were distributed, and Shannon shared a few of the marine biology activities that cohort members could bring back to their afterschool programs to kick off STEAM with their youth. Through paper fortune-tellers, we all made and played “Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out!" learning about sea turtle predators.  We then learned about the different types of seaweed that can be found here in our local waters and beaches. In this activity, practitioners learned how they can teach the youth about seaweed through real samples and through tasting various seaweed snacks.

Back on the dock, Captain Rich took a quick dive into the water to bring us a live show-and-tell of a sea star and sea urchin.  The Fish and Wildlife Commission prohibits persons, even boat captains, from removing sea stars from their water environments, so Captain Rich was careful to keep the beautiful marine creatures in the water as several cohort members did see-touch observations before returning them to their habitats.

Thank you Captain Rich, Shannon, and Tony for a morning of seaworthy fun and sun, and an amazing marine science and STEAM learning experience.  Thank you, Prime Time Palm Beach County and Children's Services Council, for your support and making these STEAM experiences possible for our dedicated OST professionals.

To join our Fall STEAM training cohort and to participate in more Prime Time Palm Beach County professional development STEAM events, visit our website or contact Patricia Sasson, Prime Time STEAM professional development specialist.