This summer I went to Gloucester Point Virginia to help run and evaluate informal marine science programs through the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve located on William and Mary’s Graduate Marine Science program.
These programs included community events where people could come visit our lab where we set up different exhibits and hosted short lectures. Topics included physical oceanography, macro invertebrates and art in science. Most of the attendees were parents and their children, though many other people attended these events.
The main focus of the program were the summer camps. There were four different week-long summer camps for different age groups: high schoolers, 7th and 8th grade, 5th and 6th grade, and 3rd and 4th grade. During camp, the campers learned how to help protect the Chesapeake Bay, conservation efforts, and various things within the realm of marine science including water quality testing and how to identify what is in the stomach of a dogfish.
This was the second time I have acted as a teacher. In the informal setting, it was easy to connect with the campers and help guide them through whatever activity was at hand. The occasions in which I had to stand in front of the class and speak were a tad more terrifying, though it was incredibly fulfilling to speak to a group of kids who were interested in learning more about the topics I presented.
My favorite part of the summer was being able to talk to the campers about some of my favorite things: Harry Potter, Star Wars and Dragons. The third and fourth graders particularly enjoyed talking about dragons, and by the end of the week I had about ten different drawings of dragons that the campers had made for me. It was amazing to feel that I had made an impact on their lives, and that they took to my teaching as much as they did.
I don’t believe I could ever become an elementary or high school teacher, as having to interact with a large number of students each day is indeed tiring, but I loved being able to meet people and potentially guide them towards a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. In the future, I may pursue other lines of public outreach.