The Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) recently partnered with North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Dare County Center and Dare County 4H to develop and host a 3-part Estuarine Science Workshop Series as part of the Center’s “Summer Fun” youth programming. The series took place at the Coastal Studies Institute with monthly workshops in June, July and August. Each session built upon the last and engaged local students in the scientific process through fun, hands-on educational programs. During the three part series, students explored experimental design, performed biological sampling, and assisted with shoreline stabilization research on a real CSI study site.
The goal of the partnership was to increase opportunities for local 15 to 18-year-olds to take part in scientific research happening in Dare County. Participants learned to think like scientists by conducting experiments in an ongoing shoreline stabilization research project and drawing connections between ecosystem health and community resilience. Highlights of the series included collection of biological samples with seine nets, modeling shoreline dynamics in the augmented reality sandbox, and digging in to some of the many ways drone technology is used in marine science. The series culminated with a drone flight to 3-dimensionally map the study area, as well as snorkeling to survey the sills for aquatic life using the students’ own, carefully planned methodology.
The Coastal Studies Institute and Dare County 4H Estuarine Science Workshop Series was a great success, drawing more participants with each meeting. The intention moving forward is for the series to be the first of many educational collaborations between the two groups, continuing to engage local student scientists and support ongoing coastal and estuarine research throughout the year.