Students Find Beach Fun in Winter

December 14, 2004

SOUTH BOSTON - Winter is peak beach season for a group of after-school students from South Boston's Paraclete Center. They visited Carson Beach on Tuesday, November 30 to clean the beach and learn more about the ocean in their backyards.

The students are part of a new collaboration between the Paraclete Center and TERC, an education non-profit based in Cambridge. The students used their time at Carson to tidy up and learn about how marine debris effects the diverse animal and plant species that call the beach home.

Programs like this collaboration between TERC and Paraclete represent a growing trend towards including more academic enrichment in after-school programs. The students have been studying ocean biology and ecology as part of a six-week program.

"We've found that after-school time is perfectly suited to extended science investigations of this sort," said Brian Conroy of TERC, co-leader of the program. "The students in the program are learning about a part of their community they often take for granted, as they become more aware of environmental issues in their communities and how to address them."

The beach clean-up is a part of CoastSweeps, an international event organized by The Ocean Conservancy. The local organizer, Urban Harbors Institute, provided background materials, data sheets, and plastic bags and gloves to collect debris.

Students recorded the types of debris and the number of items found on the data sheets. The data is then consolidated in a group report and sent to The Ocean Conservancy, which includes the kids' efforts in an annual report on marine debris.

"It means a lot to kids to know they are contributing to an effort that is much bigger than our small group," Conroy added.

For more information about the Paraclete Center's after-school programs, visit www.paraclete.us.