CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Dr. Lee Smee had students and teachers rise early one July morning to demonstrate how marine biologists collect and measure water quality at Indian Point Park at Portland, Texas. This type of hands-on learning will prove to be invaluable for those who want to become future marine biologists, future middle school teachers, or those who just love to study the ecosystem.
“Our role is to show students how science is done, and today we demonstrated some of the techniques used to collect animals for experiments,” said Smee, Associate Professor in the Department of Life Sciences at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. “We also covered some of the natural history of the local area.”
After Dr. Smee demonstrated the proper techniques, he invited the teachers and the students to jump right in and practice themselves.
During this hands-on learning project for students and local teachers, Smee demonstrated how to collect various types of water and animal samples utilizing the same techniques as marine biologists. Smee also invited local K-12 grade teachers out so that they could have hands-on practice. Smee was assisted by nine ETEAMS (Elementary Teachers Engaged in Authentic Math and Science) students, and three graduate students to lead the activities. ETEAMS students are training to become middle school science teachers.
“They will be the ones to lead the science classes of the future, so it is very helpful for the students to be able to participate in such a great learning opportunity, using real life practice,” he said.
Smee is no stranger to the hands-on learning classroom. He and, Dr. Kirk Cammarata, Associate Professor of Science and Engineering, recently led a group of students for a 10-day hike through the Big Bend. The hike was so successful that Smee continued the tradition of studying ecology through real life exercises with this animal collection demonstration.
“By providing better training in science, these teachers will gain more experience and confidence in teaching science, make their students more scientifically literate, and have a large impact on science education in the Coastal Bend.”