Fountain Valley High School

All about FVHS’ new marine biology course

There are many different science courses offered at Fountain Valley High School, ranging from chemistry to physics to computer science. Now with the introduction of Marine Biology, students have another option of science classes to choose from.

Marine Biology is a combination of the biological and nonliving aspects of the ocean and other bodies of water. Students focus on the physical science and geology of the ocean in the first semester, while the second semester covers the diversity of the ocean. Students will also conduct research in the second semester.

This new class both covers marine biology and grants fun experiences for both students and its first and only teacher, Lisa Battig.

Battig’s love of marine life started when she was young and hasn’t stopped growing ever since.

“Like many young people, I fell in love with the ocean at an early age. I especially loved dolphins and wanted to swim with them and study them out in their natural environment,” Battig said. “I started coming up with dolphin communication field studies that I could implement when I was about 10 years old.”

Battig’s love for marine biology started to blossom in high school with her first marine science course and its teacher.

“What really cemented my love for the marine sciences was my high school Marine Biology teacher, Bob Perry,” Battig said. “There were several reasons. For one, he had us get out in the field several times so that we could learn hands-on. He also was a SCUBA diving master instructor and gave us the opportunity to get certified.”

Battig also had the opportunity to do direct her own research on the movement on bat stars and the feeding habits of cowries her senior year with Perry.

This was all the encouragement and support needed for Battig to pursue a degree in marine biology. While teaching this course, Battig wants to be able to offer the same kinds of experiences to her students that her marine biology teacher had offered her.

Though marine biology has been both a generally easy-to-understand and fun subject for most students, it is challenging to teach a lab science class virtually.

“We’ve been somewhat creative in this class, either having you pick up materials or using things you would commonly find in your own home,” Battig said. “But it obviously requires a lot more planning and a lot more ingenuity and then there’s a distinct lack of feedback because I can’t see how each student is getting on.”

Battig can’t wait to be able to see her students this year and she has many in-person opportunities planned.

“My biggest desire with this course is to make certain that all of the students can have first-hand experience of the topic we are discussing,” Battig said. “I desire every student to get to the ocean and spend time in the tide pools, and for every student to dig through the sand at the beach to find clams and sand crabs and such. That type of personal experience is what makes a class like this one really make sense.”

With the start of in-person instruction, Battig hopes these plans will become a reality soon. She has plans that by the beginning of the second semester, her students will be able to gather data weekly and look at plankton from local waters during class.

Students taking Marine Biology this year are also excited about the future of the class as well and expect good things from it, from hoping to get a feel of the field and possibly pursue a career in marine biology or to have new experiences.

“[By taking marine biology], I hope to gain a better understanding of a somewhat niche field,” senior Eric Pham said. “I’ve never heard of anything like this until now so I’m hoping I can get a feel for what this field of study is all about.”

Pham recommends taking this class to peers if they are interested.

“I love this class and it’s one of the few that has not caused me extreme undue stress,” Pham said. “The content is so interesting and the lectures are not hard to get through at all! Also, the projects [and] demonstrations are really cool so that’s a huge plus.”

Senior Vincent Tran, who is taking Marine Biology, shares Pham’s sentiments and recommends taking the course as well.

“So far from what I’ve experienced, I would recommend more students to take [marine biology] if they are interested,” Tran, who wants to be a marine biologist said.

If FVHS students have any interest in marine life whatsoever, or you just want to try something new to take you outside of your comfort zone, consider adding marine biology to your course requests for the 2021-2022 school year.

To enroll in marine biology, students must have completed Algebra 1, a year of physical science and a year of biology with passing grades. Students can contact Battig through email at lbattig@hbuhsd.edu if they have any questions about the course.