A Hands-On Experience

The Department of Ocean Sciences at Memorial University has wrapped up a two month-long, joint collaboration with the Oceans Learning Partnership.

The program offers high school students and their teachers an opportunity to discover the diverse and fascinating world of ocean sciences. The biodiversity lab program gave Biology 2201 students and their teachers a field trip that provided many of the learning outcomes associated with the biodiversity unit of the course.

“The program is an excellent opportunity to introduce students to the diversity of life in the oceans, to discuss adaptations and excite students about marine science,” said Danielle Nichols, program co-ordinator and research marketing manager, Department of Ocean Sciences.

When it concluded in early November, the hands-on learning program had participation from more than 370 students over the six-week period at Memorial’s Ocean Sciences Centre (OSC) in Logy Bay. Thirteen schools participated from St. John’s, Torbay, Mount Pearl, Avondale, Bonavista, Conception Bay South and Bell Island.

“Students rotated through learning stations during which they dissected a fish and learned about adaptations for the marine environment; handled live invertebrates and learned how to identify each using a dichotomous key; compared marine habitats; participated in animal care, including water quality monitoring; assisted with ongoing behaviour studies of resident harp seals; and learned about the research taking place at the OSC,” Nichols said.

Along the way, experienced lab technicians and graduate students guided the high school students as they discovered the ocean and learned laboratory skills while being exposed to a variety of career possibilities in marine research. The program was originally designed specifically to complement the at-sea field program offered by the Oceans Learning Partnership. It was piloted in the fall of 2013 with Biology 2201 and Science 1206 students and received positive feedback from those who took part.

Kerry Hann

Managing Editor of The Navigator Magazine.

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