In August of 2022, we continued the MSU-SEAS Program in partnership with educators from Mississippi State University and the Mississippi Aquarium, with a class of 30 middle-school and high-school students. Due to unforeseen weather events, we were unable to take the students offshore to the barrier islands, so students were immersed in hands-on activities, which included the collection of marine scientific data, water quality samples and sediment, and identification of various marine species, as well as pollutants, beach debris, and invasive aquatic plants along the beaches and harbor of Gulfport, Mississippi, followed by a behind the scenes tour of the Mississippi Aquarium and hands-on experiences with both Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and interactive marine mammal encounters.
Program organizers and education experts said a priority of the program is to utilize one of the main tenets of modern educational theory, the concept of experiential learning, in which students are engaged when learning by doing.
“The idea is that through exposure to real-life scientific sampling techniques and locally relevant lesson content, we can remove the shadow of classroom learning and spark an interest in the sciences that will impact not only their future educational choices, but also their life-long interest and hopefully their career pathways."
NGI and the Mississippi Aquarium offer the program several times a year to both public and homeschooled students.