OSU research cruise hooks students on marine science

Students and teachers learn about ocean research
Coast students and teachers on board the R/V Oceanus. Photo by Tracy Crews.

Giving students an opportunity to conduct research can help them become interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Giving teachers a taste of what it’s like to conduct that research can help them bring back new ideas for teaching their students.

With this in mind, Oregon Sea Grant Extension and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub selected four high-schoolers, one undergraduate, and three high-school teachers to join a three-day Oregon State University research cruise in September 2016. Mentored by three OSU graduate students, participants learned about marine-related careers, observed more than 500 marine mammals, and deployed instruments to sample water and plankton. During a shipboard tour in Portland, high-school students and teachers described their research experiences to school groups and legislators.

After the trip, one of the students fulfilled international baccalaureate requirements by writing a report on the humpback whale sightings, earning him college credit. Another student earned high school credit for participating in the trip. In a survey afterward, one of the teachers said she “returned to the classroom with enthusiasm” and shared what she learned with her students. She also blogged about the research, the scientists and the wildlife they spotted.

Three of the students completed a survey in which they all rated the experience as “excellent” and said it helped them define what they wanted to do. One student wrote, “This has given me insight into the marine science world and inspired me to take my future career in that direction.” Another wrote, “It showed me that marine biology is 100 percent what I want to do.” The third wrote, “It was life changing.”

Sources: Tracy Crews, Oregon Sea Grant’s marine education program manager, and Leigh Torres, a marine mammals specialist with Oregon Sea Grant and OSU Extension

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