Educator, student return from successful JASON Argonaut expedition

August 3, 2016

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Thornton Middle School alumna and incoming Cypress Lakes High School freshman Laura Gonzalez floats in “The Cut” near Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) on the island of Eleuthera in The Bahamas July 15-21. Gonzalez and Hamilton Middle School teacher Kristi Pearson attended the research trip as Argonauts through the Chevron-sponsored JASON Learning program.

Aug. 3, 2016—A Thornton Middle School alumna and Hamilton Middle School teacher recently returned from a summer expedition as Student and Educator Argonauts through Chevron’s JASON Learning program.

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Laura Gonzalez and a Humble ISD student filet harvested tilapia from the aquaponics lab during the JASON Argonaut trip to Cape Eleuthera Institute in The Bahamas last month.

Cypress Lakes High School incoming freshman Laura Gonzalez and Hamilton Middle School seventh-grade science teacher Kristi Pearson were among a select group of Argonauts who traveled to the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) on the island of Eleuthera in The Bahamas July 15-21.

While there, they participated in an intensive hands-on research experience with resident and visiting scientists engaged in a diversity of marine science projects. The Argonauts spent their days on exciting outdoor excursions such as cliff jumping into the Atlantic, joining interactive field educational lessons, exploring the wide range of the island’s scenic bodies of water and documenting their experience on blogs and in journals. 

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Laura Gonzalez displays a hermit crab she found on the the beach before a snorkeling adventure to observe coral reef ecology during the JASON Learning expedition

Pearson and Gonzalez’s hands-on journey included action-packed 12-hour days filled with snorkeling, aquaponics labs, shark research, sustainability, mangrove ecology and fish dissections.

“We were immersed in it from literally the moment we got out of the vans at the institute,” Pearson said. “The days were so busy they seemed so long when we were there, but looking back on it they went so fast.”

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Hamilton Middle School seventh-grade science teacher Kristi Pearson learns how to drive the boat during a snorkeling adventure off the coast of Cape Eleuthera in the Bahamas. 

Pearson said she enjoyed getting to know Gonzalez and working alongside her in a collaborative learning environment.

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Hamilton Middle School teacher Kristi Pearson and Cypress Lakes High School incoming freshman Laura Gonzalez take a flight to Nassau, The Bahamas, as part of their Chevron-funded JASON Learning Argonaut expedition. 

“We were all students learning on the same level,” Pearson said. “Laura and I had a blast. She is such a great kid. Every day we would ask each other what our favorite part of the day was. She had no fear and was one of the first people to do what we were asked.”

Eleven teams of student and teacher Argos from the Houston area joined JASON Learning this summer as part of a collaborative public-private partnership underwritten by Chevron looking to help the metropolitan community develop a sustainable and systematic solution to the need for high-quality effective science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

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Hamilton Middle School teacher Kristi Pearson cliff dives off High Rock as a morning wake-up during the JASON Argonaut expedition at Cape Eleuthera Institute in The Bahamas.

The JASON curriculum was unveiled in CFISD beginning in 2013-2014, the result of a nearly $250,000 grant from Chevron.

The Argonaut adventure will offer continued learning activities for the CFISD student and educator in the classroom.

“Everything we talked about I can use in the classroom,” Pearson said. “I’m looking forward to sharing pictures and lessons and maybe even building a small aquaponics lab for the classroom. When I’m passionate about a topic I feel it will be easier for the students to get excited about it.”

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Thornton Middle School alum Laura Gonzalez, right, joins students from Klein and Humble school districts in dissecting a squid during the JASON Learning Argonaut expedition in The Bahamas.

Pearson encouraged fellow CFISD educators and students to apply for future Argonaut experiences.

“Most people never get to do something like this in their lifetimes and we got to do it for four days,” she said. “We literally came back with another family. I will be the biggest advocate for telling people to apply.”

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