Students Study Florida’s Ocean Marine Life From Afar

They couldn’t go to the ocean, so the ocean came to them.

After the Middle School’s planned spring break trip to MarineLab, a marine science education center in the Florida Keys, was canceled due to COVID-19, middle school science teacher Dana McNamee set up virtual classes with MarineLab scientists to ensure that her students could still learn about and experience the ocean’s ecosystem. 

Over the past two weeks, eighth grade students who had signed up for the spring break trip and all seventh grade students had the opportunity to study seagrass ecology, invertebrate diversity and zooplankton with the MarineLab staff. McNamee said that, because the seventh graders are studying ecosystem biodiversity, “The classes taught by MarineLab fit perfectly, as we were able to ‘explore’ the subtropical Florida Keys and identify invertebrate species in the live rock environment off the shallow waters of Key Largo.” McNamee complemented these lessons with videos of her own invertebrate diversity study from her hometown of Stamford, Connecticut, thus allowing students to compare species and ecosystems. 

“Students have been very receptive, excited, and have enjoyed getting to see this completely different subtropical environment in real-time,” McNamee shared. “I hope that students are seeing that, regardless of circumstances, science and research continue!”

Indeed, for these young scientists, the research will go on: McNamee’s students will also be meeting with and learning from scientists at the New England Aquarium in Boston throughout the month of May.

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