Classroom on the Water

[youtube][/youtube]As UNC marine scientist Marc Alperin says, “You can’t study the environment without going into the environment.”

Going “into the environment” is what this unique marine science class is all about. N.C. Estuaries: Environmental Processes and Problems was offered during spring ’12 Maymester, allowing students to spend a week at the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute for Marine Sciences in Morehead City. During their five days on the coast, students spend two days on the water, getting a close look at how an estuarine system functions.

“You actually get to work with a lot of the equipment that major scientists use to study estuaries every day,” said Risa Dalsing (biology ’13).

This real-world, hands-on approach contributes to the students’ familiarity with field work.  Dalsing said the class gave her good insight into what it would be like to do marine research as a career.

In addition to gaining a great hands-on learning experience, the students also benefit from the small class size. With only 12 to14 students in the class, Alperin can connect with each of them on an individual basis while the students enjoy forging new friendships.

“When everyone is stuck on a boat for eight hours, you get to know everyone pretty well,” said Alan Synder (biology/history ’15). “It was cool because it was a class activity where we all learned and there was a lot of bonding.”

[ Text and video by Mary Lide Parker ’10 ]

Read more about UNC’s new two-year academic theme focused on water in the upcoming fall issue of Carolina Arts & Sciences magazine.