From Staff Reports
This summer at Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, students in grades seven through nine, including David English of Princeton, dove headfirst into the world of marine science.
At Gulf Island Journey, a residential marine science camp for children ages 12-14, students had the unique opportunity to explore island habitats, both human and aquatic.
The camp was designed especially for the growing curiosity and academic interest of this age group, and the attendees investigated various kinds of marine life through high energy, hands-on and sometimes hands-in activities.
From July 26-31, students at Gulf Island Journey, including English, Clark Junior High School student, explored island habitats and discovered more about coastal ecology by stepping inside the world of a marine researcher. By seining in a salt marsh, trawling the bay in the Sea Lab’s Research Vessel the Alabama Discovery, and casting plankton nets from shore, the campers were able to gather their own specimens and observe marine life firsthand under the guidance of the experienced team of educators and counselors from DISL.
The group also unearthed some of the roots of our own history found here on Dauphin Island. They toured the historic Fort Gaines, where the famous Battle of Mobile Bay took place during the Civil War, then visited an ancient Shell Mound formed by Native Americans hundreds of years ago. While students at the camp often focused on the impact that humans have on marine ecosystems, they also learned about the role the ocean and coastline of Alabama has played in American society throughout history.
Back at the Sea Lab, students learned about the ways Remote-Operated Vehicles (ROVs) can be used to explore ocean depths and were then given the opportunity to build and compete with their own ROVs at the pool. Campers also broke into groups and carefully dissected real sharks in order to discover for themselves what characteristics allow fish to thrive in their native marine habitats.
As Gulf Island Journey is a residential camp, participants spent six days and five nights on the grounds of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, where real world-changing research is being done every day. The campers were able to make many new friends while living in the Sea Lab dorms and investigating their own interests within marine science, and DISL’s award-winning educators accented each educational activity with fascinating knowledge about the ocean and animals within.
Through this camp, DISL staff members shared the knowledge and sense of discovery that they have achieved in their research with these younger members of the scientific community. The students who participated in this education-rich adventure at the Sea Lab created a memory that will spark a love of learning and interest in environmental science that will last their entire lives.