Students Explore Aquatic Sciences (SEAS)

June 19, 2018

Enhancing Science Communication

[NOTE: This blog post was originally published on October 18, 2017]

This post was first published in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences Spring 2016-2017 Newsletter, available here.

Science communication fuels discovery and broadens scientific literacy. Developing outreach activities provides an outlet for young scientists to hone their communication skills. A group of volunteers in SAFS led by Isadora Jimenez and Bob Oxborrow (SAFS staff members) is developing “Students Explore Aquatic Sciences,” or SEAS. This program is an effort among SAFS research staff and graduate students to engage the public with researchers at UW, with a focus on middle school students within the greater Seattle area.

Briarcrest-STEM

SEAS coordinator Isadora Jimenez engages students at Briarcrest Elementary STEM Night about Puget Sound fish habitats and reproductive life histories.

SEAS aims to increase the visibility of SAFS within the local community and promote the School to students from diverse backgrounds. SEAS will provide an opportunity to foster connections among academia, local communities, and their natural resources.

SEAS will consist of four main components: in-school mini-lessons, SAFS open houses, lab visits, and a summer program. Graduate students and research staff will visit public schools, present information, and lead hands-on activities related to SAFS research. Monthly meetings will provide an opportunity for volunteers to develop and enhance their lesson plans and share resources among peers.

The first SEAS volunteers acted as STEM activity leads for the 2017 MESA Day on March 26th. Activities focused on genetic research and its application to fisheries. After learning about DNA structure and genetic barcoding, students worked on a “CSI” style project, where they determined prey of Chinook salmon in the Bering Sea by matching DNA sequences of unidentifiable stomach contents to a key.

Starting in fall 2017, SEAS will launch its open house program with an all-day event. Participating labs will showcase their research and facilitate relevant activities and games for visiting students and their families. The SAFS curriculum will also be highlighted, and visitors will have the opportunity to interact with students and faculty. Ultimately, SEAS hopes to incorporate a three-day summer program in which middle school students will explore one subject through the lens of various labs’ expertise. This will also help students discover how subjects interconnect and relate to local issues in Puget Sound. Graduate students and research staff will lead the lessons and facilitate career path conversations and discussions about personal experiences in the world of science.