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Shoals Marine Lab Underwater Research Class

Shoals Marine Lab Underwater Research Class

We are on an island called
Appledore Island which is a small island, about 95 acres. When I was a student, I thought
this was just the greatest place. I mean, I do still
think this is the greatest place on earth. So I actually chose UNH as my
undergraduate school, because of the Shoals Marine Lab. It’s a very special place,
because this place is primarily geared for
undergraduate education. So this summer after my freshman
year, I came out here and took underwater research. So now I come back every summer
from Alaska to teach the underwater research class. The second day out on the float
we give them a slate and an assignment, and they’re going
and collecting data. Every year we have the students
come up with their own proposal. We don’t spoon feed
them anything. We want them to go out and look
at things and make their own observations, and then we’ll
guide them in trying to develop a question that can be
answered in a variety of ways. It’s very real, you know? We learn basic driving safety
and ecology and then we can just jump right in and ask
questions ourselves. A lot of universities will offer
a diving class where they can get certified to dive
or an advanced certification, but very few places offer a
scientific diver course, where they’re also learning underwater
research methods, sampling methods, data
collection methods, for the experimental design of how you
go about answering questions in the subtidal. And the academic portion that
Jim and I give them of the organisms and the ecology that
they can take forward and apply to any system, not
just underwater. This is a really amazing
experience. It’s really special. I think it’s extremely valuable
that we get such a variance in our learning
experiences. All the components, whether
they’re in the classroom or in the dive locker, on the float or
underwater, all have really useful cross communication and
it’s very different being underwater and trying
to conduct research. We told them on the first night,
going over the syllabus and what they’d be graded on,
and we have an organism exam. We’re going to take you
underwater, and you’re going to have to identify 20 things. And they said, well how
will we remember? We come back on the float
and we write down? And I said no, you’ll have a
slate with you, and you’ll write down underwater, and
take the exam underwater. And every year they’re like,
I’ve never taken an exam underwater. I am so glad I decided to come
here, because it’s given me an opportunity to see if marine
biology is right for me. Because I’m doing it
and living it. I’ve always loved the ocean
and growing up here it’s really great to be able to take
tide pooling to the next step, and be able to look
at the environment in a different way. The unique part about Appledore
Island is, first of all, it is an island. So students who come out here
not only get an intense experience in academics, but
they also get an intense social experience. And almost 100% of the time,
students come out here with lifelong friends, or
they leave here with lifelong friends.

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