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OssaBEST (Ossabaw Electronic exploration for Students and Teachers),

is a science, technology and education program on Ossabaw Island, for middle and high school students and teachers.

This three-year, grant funded program is designed to combine hands-on field observation with state-of-the-art computer technology. OssaBEST provides an opportunity for public school teachers and students from Chatham County, Georgia to come to Ossabaw Island, located minutes from where they live and yet seemingly a world away.

Through OssaBEST, students and teachers explore a wide variety of ecosystems, capture digital images, collect data and ultimately create a working, “on-line” virtual field guide to the island. It’s hoped that the unique on-island science programming and unspoiled natural environment of Ossabaw Island will excite students about math and science and motivate them to pursue careers in science, computers and technology.

In 2007, the schools of Computer Science, Information Technology and Education from Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU) were awarded a $1.2 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to fund OssaBEST. The first of three OssaBEST “Summer Institutes” was conducted on the island during the summer of 2008. In the course of two weeks nearly 80 local public middle and high school students and teachers, as well as faculty and staff from AASU, came to the island and stayed in the Clubhouse. With digital cameras and GPS devices in hand, they ventured out daily to explore our marshes, forests and beaches. They tested water from a variety of aquatic ecosystems, retrieved data from our groundwater sensors and created Power Point presentations to share their findings.

As Georgia Power’s Barrier Island Observatory evolves on Ossabaw Island, so too will OssaBEST. Future Summer Institutes on the island, as well as students and teachers across the state and around the country, will be able to track atmospheric conditions on Ossabaw and possibly correlate that data to sea turtle nesting activity here on the Georgia coast. Proposed video cameras placed strategically throughout the island will provide insight into life around alligator holes, bald eagle nesting behavior, endangered wood stork courtship activity and sea turtle nest depredation among other aspects of Ossabaw’s wildlife.

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OssaBEST : 2008-2010