On April 22nd, for Earth Day, Alexander Montessori Elementary children had a special visit from the Vaughan family, who drove up from Key West. Dr. Vaughan, a marine scientist who founded and runs the Plant a Million Corals organization, discovered a method of growing corals 40 times faster than previously known methods called “micro-fragmentation.” The process of re-growing corals at rapid rates has been heralded in scientific publications and The New York Times.
Dr. Vaughan has also been a Ted Talk speaker and is now traveling internationally to help restore and regrow coral reefs around the world! His wife, Donna, the Education Director, showed the children a video of the process of coral restoration through micro-fragmentation and “re-skinning” at the Mote Marine Center in Sarasota. The children learned how important coral reefs are to our ecosystems, fisheries, tourism, and storm protection. They also learned that the process of micro-fragmentation that Dr. Vaughan discovered was actually a mistake!
Dr. Vaughan had been growing a coral for three years when he accidentally broke off a piece. He discovered that the broken pieces ended up growing at a faster rate than the original piece and later fused together, recognizing they were from the original parent piece. Dr. Vaughan’s mistake ended up being a wonderful, new discovery that is now helping to add hope to restoring coral reefs! Traditionally, it takes years and years to have coral grow, but with the micro-fragmentation process, growth that would normally take hundreds of years is now only taking two years. Dr. Vaughan inspired them to become “underwater park rangers” and do their part to help our world. The children also learned that making a mistake may lead you to a great discovery that you never imagined!