High school students learn marine science through TIDE camp
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 16:02
Marine science is not as glamorous as most students think, Franklin Newton, assistant dean for Student Services at the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, said. Marine science often involves dirty work, he said, and students will sometimes stand knee-deep in mud, observing microorganisms.
Newton founded the university-sponsored program Taking Interest in Delaware’s Estuary with colleague Dana Veron to expose high school students to marine science through a two-week camp in July, and he is now recruiting students for the 2013 summer camp.
The students spend time in the field doing hands-on work such as building robotics and cleaning estuaries in the Newark and Lewes, Del. areas.Newton said interest has increased each year since the program’s inception with a greater variety in the students who apply for the camp.
“TIDE camp changes slightly each year due to schedule or because we will work a different service piece,” Newton said.
High school students who might be interested in a career in this field live at the Newark campus during the first week of camp and work in nearby estuaries before traveling to Lewes to examine ocean water during the second week, Newton said, in a program that is essentially an insight into oceanography and marine science.
Each year, 15 to 17 students with high math and science grades and at least one completed year of high school are accepted in the program, which costs $1,800 for participants. The program also has international appeal with students attending from across the nation and from countries such as Ecuador.
Sophomore Marina Riese, a 2010 camper, said TIDE taught her about oceanography and alternative energy sources.
“I had so much fun cleaning up the Bay, making our own [Autonomous Underwater Vehicles] and even just hanging out on the Newark and Lewes campuses,” Riese said.
In addition to making the AUVs, the students design and construct Remotely Operated Vehicles, which they then use to simulate oil spills inside pools with the use of ping-pong balls. The students try to “cap” the spill and keep the “oil” from spreading while spending a great deal of time using tools to clean up local water habitats, Newton said.
Since high schools do not have the resources to teach ocean and marine sciences, students can enter college without realistic ideas of what marine science is, Newton said. This program gives participants a better understanding of the numerous fields that fall under marine science, such as physical sciences, biology and other sciences.
Newton entered college as a computer science major and quickly decided that was not the path for him. He said he enjoys leading the program because students experience the application of marine science prior to college and realize if it is a field they want to further study.
He also said the program is helping the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment grow, as many campers later choose to apply to the university.
Alumnus Trevor Metz, who graduated in 2007 and is currently working towards a master in coastal geology, has been a counselor for TIDE the past five summers.
His main responsibility is to lead the students, help them understand what it’s like to live on a college campus and answer any questions they have. Metz said the hands-on work was what attracted him to the program.
“Working with ROVs, AUVs, field experiments and interacting with professors was what motivated me to apply as a graduate student here at UD,” Metz said.
Riese said going to the camp also enabled her to decide to study marine science in college.
“The program helped me see that I want to make a career out of helping to protect aquatic biomes and organisms,” Riese said. “If I could go back and participate in the program again, I would.”