Last month, the Junior Leadership Program (JLP) went out to the beach at Carkeek Park as part of their two weeks with NOAA Science Camp. Guided by NOAA scientists and professional science educators, high school campers get hands-on learning experiences in youth leadership, communication skills, team-building and scientific research.
The beach day was just one of many experiences that helps Junior Leaders develop their skills as leaders, teachers, marine scientists, and give them unique exposure to marine-related careers. NOAA scientists Anna Kagley, Nick Tolimieri and Paul Chitarro, along with undergraduate interns Devin Robichaux and Winona Platt, talked to the Junior Leaders about their careers and offered advice on how to enter into the field.
The scientists pulled a seine along the water’s edge to survey the marine life found just steps off the beach. They thrilled the Junior Leaders with their wide knowledge of marine ecology and fantastic identification skills.
After lunch, the Junior Leaders devised plans to conduct beach transects in small groups. Students were encouraged to think like scientists as they designed their transects and consider which scientific questions they wanted to investigate. Then, using hula hoops and transect lines, they were able to survey a range of habitats from the sandy beach to the rocky intertidal.
The Junior Leadership program is directly integrated and run concurrently with camp programming for middle schoolers. This multi-year, multi-level program is intended to prepare Junior Leaders to potentially return as camp staff in the future or to pursue other interests in the marine sciences.
Earlier in their camp program, the Junior Leaders had been out on Puget Sound with Ocean Inquiry Project learning how to conduct water sampling and getting a brief feel for life at sea. They also worked on a project with the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS) to design their own buoys, complete with appropriate sensors to test their research questions. All of the projects are designed to expose the Junior Leaders to the different tools and mechanisms involved in scientific research, all while having fun at camp!