LearnBoost welcomes Bay View Elementary
The program provides a free education course to fourth to sixth-grade students, who typically come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The program's Executive Director Dan Haifley has argued O'Neill Sea Odyssey's position that ocean concepts should be adopted in formal education standards and made more widely available to youth from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
The core program takes place over a three hour period on board a 65-foot catamaran owned by Team O'Neill, and covers three areas; marine biology, ecology and navigation. Three quarters of teachers who enroll their classes in the program utilize the program's web-based classroom curriculum and educational materials both before and after the course. As of March, 2009, over 50,000 students had passed through the program. (http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_11919419).
In December, 2004, the program received the California Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award in Children’s Environmental Education and in May, 2005, US Senator Barbara Boxer presented the organization with her statewide Environmental Champion award http://www.webcitation.org/5McGWJ3FH. On August 22, the program's Adam Webster Memorial Fund received the Special Parents Information Network's Community Spinner Award for its work with special needs youth (www.spinsc.org). Executive Director Dan Haifley, along with University of California - Santa Cruz Institute of Marine Sciences Director Gary Griggs, writes a Saturday educational column for the Santa Cruz Sentinel entitiled "Our Ocean Backyard". The program continues to be offered free of charge because of the generous donations by companies, organizations, and individuals who care for enhancing the education of under privileged youth at http://www.oneillseaodyssey.org/sponsorship/.
The OSO Catamaran pulling out of the Santa Cruz Harbor
OSO's comprehensive curriculum can be found at: http://www.oneillseaodyssey.org/PDF/OSO_FINAL_COMPLETE.pdf . It utilizes everyday principles and ocean concepts to emphasize federal and state education content standards: mathematics is demonstrated using navigational concepts such as triangulation, for example. The curriculum is taught during the field trip after dividing the class into three groups using three learning stations both on the boat and in OSO's education center, summarized below.
Discussion includes the life cycles of plankton, their role in the food web and the unique chemical and physical balance that helps maintain life in the sea. Students participate in a hands-on plankton tow and the specimen is taken back to the classroom for further examination. A water sample is also taken back to test its salinity using a refractometer. When the students return to the lab, the samples from the plankton tow gathered on the boat are viewed through a microscope that is connected to a large-screen monitor. Students participate in plankton identification and discuss the different types of phytoplankton and zooplankton collected.
Students learn information about the Monterey Bay Sanctuary's characteristics and marine life and habitats. Discussion includes the kelp forest, marine mammals, human influence on our marine habitat and related ecosystems, threats to the bay, and ideas for conservation and preservation. Visual aids are used to emphasize these concepts. A water sample is taken to learn about pH. On the way back to the harbor, students count the number of otters in Black’s Beach kelp forest and record this information on their data sheet. After the students return to the lab, an overview of the water cycle and watersheds is given. The water sample is tested for pH and the effect of pH on the ecosystem is discussed. Students discuss storm drains and how they relate to ocean pollution. Using a watershed model, examples of point source and non-point source pollution are demonstrated. Students are encouraged to conceptualize solutions to current environmental problems including landfill diversion, organic farming, reducing, reusing, recycling and alternate forms of transportation and energy.
Students learn about electronic technology for navigation, triangulation, line-of-sight, use of magnetic hand-held compasses, and other elements of navigation. Hand-held compasses are used by the students to take 3 bearings on local landmarks. This information is recorded on a datasheet along with readings of wind speed, weather and depth as it relates to oceanic charts. Once back in the lab, the bearings taken on the boat are then plotted onto a chart of the Monterey Bay. Students learn how to read and decipher the signs, symbols and measurements on navigational charts. The class includes an introduction to navigational tools such as parallel rulers, globes and the compass rose. The instructor discusses latitude, longitude, basic geometry as it relates to triangulation and other elements of navigation.
The O'Neill Sea Odyssey has conducted a number of additional programs outside the "core program" including:
A week-long program focused on watershed to the sea education for low-income youth.
O'Neill Sea Odyssey sponsors ocean science mentorships for youth served by Familia Center serving low-income Latino families in Santa Cruz County.
The community service portion encourages and rewards students to give back to their community. Each class that participates in the O'Neill Sea Odyssey program, is educated in common ways to start up community service projects (CSP)in school or in their respective communities. At OSO, there is an emphasis not only in educating the individual, but also giving the tools to the student as they participate in sharing their new community awareness outside the core program. Past examples include:
OSO has provided activities and curricula to participating classrooms since 2002. Data collected during the field trip for each class is transferred to a database at the same website and each class accesses that data for follow-up lessons. Participating teachers and schools have used OSO curricula to design and implement comprehensive ocean science units into their classroom lesson plans. Since OSO’s curriculum is aligned with national education standards teachers are able to reach the standards of the marine science curriculum.  Examples:
Adam Webster Memorial Fund enables individuals with special needs to participate in O'Neill Sea Odyssey's ocean based, hands-on education program. The fund was started by Adam's parents Tom and Judy Webster, after his passing in June, 1999. The vision of the Adam Webster Fund of the O'Neill Sea Odyssey is to provide a successful but not purely intellectual or academic learning experience for individuals with special needs in the context of the ocean environment. Special needs individuals may benefit from learning about navigation but perhaps just as much from feeling the rolling motion of the ocean as the wave movement stimulates the body and a sensory system that has been immobile and confined to a wheelchair for years.
The Special Parents Information Network (SPIN) has announced that on August 22 2009 the Adam Webster Memorial Fund received the "Community Spinners" award at a ceremony in Watsonville for its work with special needs youth. 
Applied Survey Research (ASR) partnered with The United Way of Santa Cruz County have celebrated the 15th year of the Community Assessement Project,  (CAP) along with its evaluation of the O’Neill Sea Odyssey program for the 2008-2009 school year  The report found that the free, ocean-going science and ecology program for area schools has a high impact especially among low-income youth. A study of the long-term impact of the program is being conducted by San Jose State Master’s candidate Lauren Hanneman, and will be finished in Fall 2010. Among the ASR report’s findings:
The OSO Education Center is located upstairs in what is known as the O'Neill Building at the Santa Cruz Harbor.
The historic building is where legendary suspense Film director Alfred Hitchcock sailed from, where Jack O’Neill’s hot air balloons were prepared for flight and brought back for repairs. Wetsuits, sailing catamarans and dive equipment were also sold here while legendary parties and promotions were going on for the O’Neill brand.
“Harry Hind and I are old time surfers from Kelly's Cove and Ocean Beach, San Francisco. We surfed there in the 1950s, and became good friends," Jack O’Neill said while describing the building’s genesis. "I had the idea to open a surf shop at the Santa Cruz Harbor, and I asked Harry if he could back me on the deal. He said he would. Then Harry brought in a CPA and an attorney, and soon our surf shack became an 8,500 square foot building. We got approval from the Harbor and built in 1965. In 2000, Harry and I donated this building to the Sea Odyssey, to have this wonderful facility and revenue from rental space. Harry and I had a lifelong interest in the ocean, and his generosity has helped to make this program possible.”
In 2004 O’Neill Sea Odyssey (OSO) and the Santa Cruz Harbor renovated the building, with OSO taking the upstairs and the Harbor taking the downstairs. OSO got an education center to serve thousands of kids per year with the award-winning program, and comfortable private tenant spaces with sweeping views of the Santa Cruz Harbor Channel and the Monterey Bay.
As the building was renovated, OSO continued its classes in a temporary facility on US Coast Guard land on the Harbor’s west side. Donors supporting OSO’s building renovation included the California Wildlife Conservation Board, Jack O’Neill, Harry Hind, the California Coastal Conservancy, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Balance Vector Inc., Robert Stephens and Julie Packard, Charles and Ann Walton, Jim and Debbie Thoits, Coast Commercial Bank, Tim and Bridget O’Neill, West Marine, Merrill and Lee Newman, Russ Rolfe Sr., Westcliff Foundation, Dan and Rebecca Haifley, Michael and Ann McCabe, Rob and Nancy Bremner, Nick Petredis, Jack McLaughlin, Shannon Brady and Donna Blitzer.
The O'Neill Sea Odyssey has been Green Business Certified and is listed on Monterey Bay Green Business's web site. Because of OSO's dedication to reduce water consumption, use of alternate green energy sources, recycling, and reducing pollution it has qualified as a Green Business. 
The goals of the OSO solar project are to:
In addition to the Solar Program on land, the 65-foot catamaran features solar panels and a wind turbine to create more clean energy while at sea, furthering the education of the students in the OSO core program.
“By reducing our carbon footprint and saving money, we will go green and save green,” said OSO Executive Director Dan Haifley. “Climate change impacts the ocean which in turn plays a role in moderating earth’s climate, so this will be a small contribution to keeping that balance healthy.”
The solar electric system generates about 3,700 kilowatt hours per year. It is estimated to pay for itself in 15 years. The grid-tied system includes 14 Sanyo HIP 195BA19 solar panels, among the most efficient solar panels available, and a 3000 watt AC output inverter. The solar electric system was designed by Solar Mike  and installed by Ron Goad of Solar Construction. A $19,500 grant from the Ludwick Family Foundation of Glendora Los Angeles County paid for the majority of the solar electric system, along with cash rebate from California for about 25% of the system cost. OSO looks to be a leader in sustainable building while impacting youth awareness in future green technologies.
After 20 years of service, Santa Cruz Internet provider, Cruzio, is donating its services by upgrading the O'Neill Sea Odyssey website from the old Microsoft ASP to a Drupal framework, providing a curriculum with high-quality resources for teachers in their own classrooms.
"The Bay, Ocean and Elkhorn Slough are not only central to what makes Santa Cruz County special to visitors and residents, they are central to the environmental health of the region," stated Chris Neklason, co-owner and founder of Cruzio." The OSO education program raises awareness and enthusiasm in the next generation of Earth stewards. It is vital, important work, and Cruzio is pleased to be able to assist OSO as we do other local non-profit groups and businesses."
Santa Cruz City Councilmember Ryan Coonerty, gave a request for a couple of volunteers from the members of Next Space to streamline the online learning center. Next Space is a shared working environment based in Santa Cruz that catalyzes innovation by bringing together capital, talent, and ideas.
Glen Carl, Co-founder of 0cog, Inc. (0cog.com) and Gary Harmon have worked diligently taking the O'Neill Sea Odyssey website off its old system and will have transferred the OSO website to the new Drupal platform by the March 1, 2010 goal. With more than 3/4 of participating classrooms using the OSO website this next year will provide an online learning center with the OSO curricula, the database of materials from each participating class, videos and other resources. Glen Carl, who supports the US GODAE (Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment), said "it looked like a great way to give back to my local community," while also touching on "the importance to understand how the oceans are the key to the survival of our current eco system, and that there is a gap of understanding by the general public how data is collected and then finally displayed on the local news, and how people in third world countries depend on this data to be warned of a tropical storm." He further went on to explain "after working with the OSO site, [he was] very happy to see a program that provides our youth with an introduction to appreciate the scientific study of our oceans."
Now with Cruzio's high-speed DSL, ecommerce, wireless, Web Site hosting, computer care and hands-on clasess the OSO program has become enriched with the opportunity to save precious donor funds used for directly serving local youth. Anyone can access more information and the lastest local news, weather and traffic on the award-winning cruzio.com Web site.
"Cruzio's high-value gift and involvement will enable us to continue integrating our education program into area schools, including a class database using information gathered by each class on the boat," said the OSO Executive Director Dan Haifley, while stating "we deeply appreciate their support."
The O'Neill Sea Odyssey building is equipped with the most accurate weather report system, updating temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity and rain-fall.
New computer hardware and software feed the real-time data gathered by the instruments to the Internet.
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