Teachers, when spring fever hits your students, refresh them with a free, guided tour of the University of Delaware’s research facilities at the College of Marine Studies, Hugh R. Sharp Campus, in Lewes. At these world-class state-of-the-art facilities, students can get a first-hand look at science in action and learn about different careers in the marine sciences.
“The college began the guided tours several years ago as a way to bring the world of marine science to the public,” says Bob Carnahan, director of the tour program. “Students find out that marine science is not just about marine biology and dolphins. The tours give the students lots of good information about career choices in the marine sciences.”
Each tour typically begins with a 15-minute introductory video that highlights many of the college’s research activities. The video transports visitors from the beaches of Delaware Bay where scientists collect data to assess the status of the horseshoe crab population, to the remote sensing labs in Newark where satellite technology is being used to monitor and predict El Niño and other related phenomena.
Following the video presentation, trained guides take the students on a walking tour of Cannon and Smith laboratories where the majority of the research in the college’s Oceanography and Marine Biology-Biochemistry programs is conducted. This part of the tour can be tailored to the interests of the students.
“I thought the tour was fantastic, and my students really enjoyed it,” says Lisa Sloan, a seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher at Southern Delaware School of the Arts in Selbyville. “They were especially interested in the research being conducted on horseshoe crabs because we have been studying them in class. We also learned how dependent we are on the ocean and how we impact it.”
New to the walking tour this year are numerous exhibits and displays on how University of Delaware scientists are studying extreme marine environments such as the ice-covered seas of the Antarctic and hydrothermal vent sites over a mile deep at the bottom of the ocean. Students will learn that research in these areas can lead to exciting discoveries and new techniques for applications in science and industry. They will also get a chance to tour laboratories where genetic research on marine organisms such as oysters and fish is performed and greenhouses where new uses for salt-marsh plants are being investigated.
“I was impressed to say the least,” says Kristin Murray, a senior at Middletown High School who went on the tour this past year. “Before going, I thought it would be a good chance to catch up on my daydreaming. But I had no idea that there was so much to learn about the ocean and its role in our life.”
The free tours may be scheduled for classes of five or more people, Monday through Friday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Requests should be made at least a week in advance by calling the College of Marine Studies at (302) 645-4346, by e-mailing Bob Carnahan at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by writing to the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service, University of Delaware, College of Marine Studies, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes, DE 19958-1298. The Hugh R. Sharp Campus is accessible to handicapped individuals.