As part of the growing marine science program at Ross, students are increasingly studying side by side with experts in the field and classroom, including distinguished photographer David Liittschwager, who worked on-site in Mo’orea with M-Term students and recently visited the School.
David first delivered the commencement address at the Ross School graduation on June 14, in which he encouraged the seniors to continue to develop their passions and talents and go after their dreams. He offered his own life experience as an example of this pursuit. Of becoming an expert marine life photographer, he said was not always sure of the path, but he knew he wanted his work to have an impact and be significant. His personal journey led to the development of the biocube method of study and his photographic book, A World in One Cubic Foot.
The following week, he met with students at the Upper and Lower School and Innovation Lab @Ross, sharing stories from the field, including descriptions of his current project with a National Geographic team to research and photograph the rare Bermuda petrel, once thought to be extinct. Students appreciated the opportunity to discuss their own biodiversity studies with David and talk about how best to organize and document their specimens.
A common question the students has was where to go to find information about a particular discovery. David was able to point to common sources he uses to identify an insect or fish, or “other,” as is often the case when people start with an unknown organism. He is currently working on a series of short video vignettes designed to teach everything from how to build a biocube, to where and how to place it, to helpful resources for identifying creatures. “The idea is to provide kids with everything they need in the field to develop their research and investigative skills,” he said.
David really enjoyed his time at Ross, and he was impressed with the level of interest, knowledge, and eagerness to learn that the students demonstrated. Going forward, he is anticipating working with students on future M-Term trips as well as making repeat visits to the East End.
Asked if he had any parting words of wisdom, he suggested with a smile that the students listen to Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen),” the speech put to music and made popular in a viral email nearly a decade ago.