Sea Lab in New Bedford offers hands-on marine science courses


NEW BEDFORD – Kids get dirty with hands-on activities as part of Sea Lab’s summer program.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at the Woods Hole Laboratory arrived at the school in the South End with a truck loaded with fish for the advanced levels to dissect. From plaice and mackerel to butterfish, students learned to examine both external and internal characteristics to determine one’s diet based on stomach contents.

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“Depending on the size of the mouth and the sharpness of the teeth, the more filling the diet,” said Mia Colangelo, a growing ninth grade student.

Simone Bourgeois, Sea Lab host, was delighted to include NOAA in the program.

Sea Lab students measure the size of Atlantic Hoods on East Beach in New Bedford at the start of the summer term.

“Providing the Sea Lab with opportunities to measure, weigh and analyze content is a way for the future, to involve our students in the analysis of Buzzards Bay fish,” said Bourgeois.

Two biological science technicians, Christine Kircun and Josh Dayton, helped the students identify the differences between the fish. Kircun said NOAA is a big part of the fishing industry and New Bedford is a big fishing port.

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“The practice is always a great experience,” said Kircun. “We offer a lot of fish and unique opportunities. This is what we do on the boat. Knowing that NOAA is there is awareness raising as post-secondary students think about internships.

Dayton, a Sea Lab alumnus, said it was good to be back and working with the kids. He was very impressed with the students who asked good questions and got involved in the material.

Will Gauvin uses a nautical telescope as Sea Lab students travel to East Beach in New Bedford for a series of activities at the start of the summer term.

The summer program runs until August 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Monday to Friday. It is aimed at a wide age group, from the rising or completed second year level to the rising or completed ninth grade level. During the school year, Sea Lab only serves grades 4 through 9. The summer program provides students in the younger grades with exposure to science, technology, arts, engineering and science programs. of mathematics (STEAM).

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Grades 2 and 3, classified at level one, are exposed to marine and aquaculture studies, space sciences, life sciences and physical sciences. Grade 4, level two, acquires nautical knowledge, such as rescue houses and lifeboats, as well as global meteorology and tectonics. The 5th year, level three, begins dissection and learns about building bridges and reptile animals. The 6th grade, level 4, looks at global tectonics, volcanoes, seismology, earthquakes and embarks on the study of sharks and sailing. Grade 7, level 5, covers in-depth physical sciences, crystals, volcanoes, snorkeling instruction, and weather readings. Grade 8 learns more about ethology and dissection. The 9th year deepens the framework of the program: design, engineering, technology and aquaculture and crew.

All lessons and activities are convenient for all grade levels to keep students away from textbooks and explore them.

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Sea Lab's eighth and ninth graders dissected a variety of fish provided by NOAA at Woods Hole.

Bourgeois said that due to the advanced scientific content, students participating in the program are about two years above the average academic level.

“There is no school like Sea Lab,” she says.

Registrations have been affected by the pandemic. In previous summers, around 360 students were enrolled. In 2020, that number dropped to around 280 students involved in distance education. This year, the same number will be back. Bourgeois observed that many parents are still afraid to send their children to summer programs.

However, the sexes are fairly even in enrollments, with around 52% female and 48% male.

Josh Dayton of NOAA explains to Sea Lab students their dissection findings.

There are approximately 50 staff, including 12 college or high school interns. Many interns are alumni of the program and have returned to help the younger generations.

Ty Spencer, a sophomore at Gordon College and a 2020 NBHS graduate, said he took the program himself. He even has family members in the program this year.

“I wanted to come back and give back,” Spencer said. “The program really helped my education.

Donna Kirby-Blanchette, a level 1 teacher in grade 3, transmits her enthusiasm to the children.

“I’m hooking the kids in grade three,” she said. “I make sure they learn a lot but love the science.”

She said her goal was to spark curiosity and interact with the children. Most of all, she makes sure they have fun and really like it. One morning, she took the kids to the beach so they could play the role of meteorologists, predicting the weather for the afternoon. Their conclusion? It was raining from the thick fog and humidity.

Seal Lab’s summer programming is tuition-based and is not part of SNB’s summer programming. For residents of New Bedford, the cost is $ 400 for six weeks; non-residents $ 500 for six weeks.

Standard-Times editor-in-chief Kerri Tallman can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @ktallman_SCT for links to recent articles.

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