Saint Stanislaus recently hosted its first ever Explore Science Day, inviting and allowing fifth grade students from local Catholic and Christian elementary schools an opportunity to use the expertise and facilities of both the Saint Stanislaus STEM and Marine Science programs.
Over 100 fifth graders, girls and boys, from Holy Trinity, Coast Episcopal, St. Vincent de Paul, and St. Charles Borromeo in Picayune, spent the entire day on the Saint Stanislaus campus working with Saint Stanislaus teachers, Marine Science student interns, and high school STEM students, on many hands-on activities.
In the Marine Science component of the day, Saint Stanislaus and Our Lady Academy Marine Science interns led the students in teams through a series of seven stations, each devoted to a specific aspect of marine science study. The goal of this part of the day was to immerse the young students into the active study of the aquaculture that is our coastal home. Students prepared oyster gardens for an ecosystem experiment, examined recently collected phytoplankton and zooplankton samples under microscopes, conducted water quality tests, observed various marine animal dissections, made their own fish prints, observed live ROV footage in the Gulf of Mexico from NOAA’s ship Okeanos Explorer, as well learned about the marine science lab’s aquarium tanks and their inhabitants. Mrs. Letha Boudreaux, director of the Marine Science program at Saint Stanislaus, said she wanted to “expose students to the marine world, right outside their front door. The more they know about our local ecosystem, the more likely they will become stewards for it!” About the day, Senior Saint Stanislaus intern William Greer, who ran the water quality testing station, remarked, “It was really cool to see all of the kids’ different perspectives on the various areas of marine science. They all had a blast. I’m glad the rest of the interns and I could start the spark in their minds to maybe become part of the marine science world one day.”
For the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) portion of the day, Saint Stanislaus STEM teacher Mr. Jeff Anderson and his STEM students helped teams of visiting students compete in designing and building a small scale model of a boat that would help transport a hefty load of blue crabs from point of catch to point of sale. The design challenge not only included buoyancy and capacity of the vehicle, but also efficient cost of building materials. This part of Exploring Science Day ended with the great boat float test! Mr. Anderson commented that this day was “very special for me to see young minds expanding as they do more than solve problems on paper. Science education should be hands on; after all, it is how we learn.” And his STEM student helper 11th grade Chris Luffey said he was glad that “the students from different schools were able to develop teamwork to complete the goal of building a successful barge to transport the crabs.”
The Saint Stanislaus Explore Science Day will continue next year as Saint Stanislaus shares its expertise and resources to bring experiential learning to our elementary school neighbors.