JOHNSBURG - Nine Johnsburg Central School (JCS) students crossed the country to get to class last week. Chad Pooler's marine science class visited MarineLab education center in Key Largo, FL to gain some hands-on learning experience.
Pooler has been bringing his students to MarineLab for several years and values the experience that they encounter when they actually see and touch the things they learn about in his classroom.
"We can't see coral reefs, seas grass and mangroves in Johnsburg," he said. "The students are eager to see them and learn at MarineLab."
MarineLab blends discussions, hands-on investigations and snorkeling field observations to teach ecology concepts to students from 5th grade through college.
Students in Pooler's class pay their own way for the four day trip and return with a new perspective on marine science. Despite several lay-overs and some missing luggage, the students spoke highly of the trip.
"It was nice that we got to actually see and touch the things that we are learning about in class," Emily Davis said.
Still groggy from their late flight, the students displayed jewelry from the Florida Keys, teeth from a shark's mouth and spoke about how they didn't want to leave.
"The coral reefs were amazing," Nolan Richards said. "We were chilly, but the views while snorkeling were worth it."
Armed with a piece of home, the students all took advantage of the snorkeling opportunities in wet suits provided by Beaver Brook Outfitters.
The experience has an obvious impact on the students and follows them to college, according to Pooler. He currently has two students who went on the trip who are now marine biology majors in college. Several of the students from this year's trip also expressed motivation to study marine science as well.
Pooler conceived the trip after a conference he attended on marine science trips for educational groups and based the Key Largo experience on a trip that he took to Jamaica in college. Pooler hopes to continue this trip with his future classes.
"We had so much to explore, we forgot we were learning," Davis said.