Teachers, is the winter weather making your students a little stir-crazy? How about giving them a breath of fresh air with a free, guided tour of the University of Delaware’s research facilities at the College of Marine Studies in Lewes? At these world-class facilities, students can get a first-hand look at science in action and learn about different careers in marine science.
“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. “Even though many families visit the campus for UD’s annual Coast Day festival in October, the tours are an attractive opportunity for students to visit the campus and learn more about marine issues that are being studied at the college.”
Each tour typically begins with a 20-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.
The walking tour contains numerous exhibits and displays on how UD 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 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.
For the past few years, Rob Schroeder, a biology teacher and chairman of the Science Department at Cape Henlopen High School, has been taking approximately 100 students on the tour. He brings the students on a tour in conjunction with the Sussex County Science Fair, which is held at the Virden Center on the Lewes campus.
“The kids that participate in the science fair are genuinely interested in science,” says Schroeder. “For these kids, the tour not only reinforces their interest in science, but also is a good eye-opening experience for them. They get the chance to see what graduate school is like and see the many different kinds of research projects that are being conducted at the college.”
The free tours may be scheduled for middle- and high-school 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.