More than 270 students in fifth through eighth grade gathered for the annual Marine Science Day at UConn’s Avery Point campus on May 19. Hosted by the Long Island Sound Foundation, in conjunction with the Connecticut Association of Schools, the event aimed to educate students about Long Island Sound and the field of marine science.
Representatives from UConn’s Marine Sciences program, including faculty members Heidi Dierssen, Senjie Lin, George McManus, and Evan Ward, were on hand to teach students about the Sound, its inhabitants, and the many reasons for its conservation.
Students spent time in classroom workshops, where the faculty and their graduate students led interactive demonstrations. The middle schoolers touched lobsters, flounders, horseshoe crabs, and other marine invertebrates, and peered through microscopes to examine how light creates the different colors of tiny ocean plankton. They also learned concepts in physiology by dissecting small marine squid. And, to demonstrate that anyone can study DNA, the students even extracted DNA from bananas.
But perhaps the most exciting part of the day involved a cruise on a Project Oceanology boat, where the group leaders pulled up traps filled with ocean life such as rockfish, crabs, sea stars, and electric rays.