Nearly three dozen middle school and high school students from Sarasota and Manatee counties will experiment with sea urchins and anemones, kayak on the bay to study oysters and try scuba diving from June 9 to June 22 at New College of Florida.
The students are attending PUSH/SUCCESS, marking its 10th year as a summer program at New College. Students will work in the “wet lab” of the College’s Pritzker Marine Biology Research Center, learning valuable lab skills and developing an understanding of how their health is affected by the health of the coastal environment.
For example, in one experiment, the students will use video microscopes to look at the effect of oil on sea urchin development. In other hands-on activities, they will experiment with anenomes and learn their role in medical science, collect and test water samples, and observe oyster habitats – both in the lab and from kayaks in Sarasota Bay.
Students also will get to try snorkeling and scuba diving after training and under close supervision in the New College pool.
Along the way, program director Dr. Sandra Gilchrist, professor of biology, and assistants will teach students about the scientific method, graphing and writing lab reports. Students also will participate in programs on leadership and conflict resolution.
Gilchrist notes that the participating students are not necessarily top science students at their schools. “We push all of them to at least try, and they may find a talent or skill they haven’t discovered before,” she said.
The program concludes with students’ presentation of projects and a graduation ceremony June 22 at Pritzker.
PUSH (Preparing Unique Students for Healthcare careers) is for students in grades 9 through 11. SUCCESS (Students United to Create Culturally and Educationally Successful Situations) is for students in grades 6 through 8. Both programs focus not on typical, not gifted, students, and on students from demographics under-represented in science.