On a mission to meet sharks, I worked with students and teachers from schools on both Florida coasts. The two instructors had gone above and beyond in prepping their classes. We met four of Steven Wilkie’s freshly polished shark experts on our visit to the Ten Thousand Islands estuary with Environmental Specialist Pat O’Donnell. Wilkie, of South Fort Meyers High, gives up uncounted evenings and a good deal of sleep to expose many such tiny groups to real-world research. He and O’Donnell also took pains to individualize their onboard lecture for Yazmin, a wannabe accounting major, by emphasizing the importance of statistics and data software in research.
On the Miami coast, Steven Allen of Palm Beach Maritime Academy, was proud that his students raised $2,500 to buy a satellite tag for the University of Miami’s shark tagging program. He filled me in on the current effort by educators and scientists to link students with scientists.
The University of Miami certainly rolled out an impressive model of that plan. Grad-students with Uber-exuberance mentored participants with punchy explanations, encouragement to go hands-on with the tests and tagging, and atta-boys all around. It seems an idyllic incubator for hatching a generous crop of enthusiastic scientists.
Way to go, Wonder-kinders!