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Research on interconnections among Gulf of Mexico ecosystems.
Outreach for decisions based on those interconnections.

The Portal NewsLetter

Mississippi State University's Northern Gulf Institute Continues with offerings on Science Education at Sea

September 23, 2023




looking at map
The 2023 MSU-SEAS Program continues providing experiential learning opportunities for middle and high school students of the region in its 3rd year, in partnership with the Mississippi Aquarium and Ship Island Excursions, with hands-on lessons in marine, earth, atmospheric, and environmental sciences undertaken on Ship Island and along the Gulf Islands National Seashore and Mississippi Sound.

It is our belief that experiential learning and the hands-on nature of this program will generate positive educational outcomes and excitement, invigorate student interest in the natural sciences and their environment, and potentially impact students' long-term (college) educational interests and career goals (an important NOAA workforce development goal).

This program allows students to experience sampling and data collection and lively lectures that include Gulf Coast history, geography, geology, biology, ecology concepts, and environmental and climate factors.

The Northern Gulf Institute's E&O team, several faculty members from the Mississippi State University Department of Geosciences, and staff members from the Mississippi Aquarium. Take 30 Middle, Highschool, and Homeschooled students out as the fifth cohort of learners, experiencing a hands-on marine science excursion while learning positive behavioral practices that promote sustainable choices in safeguarding the Gulf of Mexico's marine ecosystem. The day-long excursion will travel out into the Mississippi Sound and onshore along the beaches of Ship Island aboard Ship Island Excursions Vessels operating out of Gulfport, MS.

teaching at the beach
"We believe an engaged and informed public is a great partner in the effort to protect the Gulf of Mexico's environment," said Jonathan Harris, Northern Gulf Institute outreach director. "By giving students access to this kind of learning, NGI and the Mississippi Aquarium is making its research relevant to the students who will become the stakeholders and citizens of the future."

Students will be immersed in hands-on activities, including learning about collecting marine scientific data, water quality samples, and seafloor sediment and identifying various marine species and invasive aquatic plants. Program organizers and education experts said another program priority is to practice 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 twice yearly to public and homeschooled students. Student participants in this cohort are from all along the Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi Coastal Counties, and several students are from as far north as Tupelo and Kosciusko.

Click here for more information about Ship Island Excursions

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