AVID students test the waters

Quin testing the water at shell island

Quintanilla tests the water at Shell Island. (Photo: Chapman)

Advanced Placement environmental teacher Lisa Merritt took her junior Advanced Via Individual Determination [AVID] students on a field trip to the Marine Science Station [MSS] February 11 and 12.

“I think it was a good and cool experience for us; I was just scared it would be cold out,” said junior Jordan Quintanilla.

They started off the day by meeting all the teachers at the station and moved quickly into a pre-test about the wildlife and how to help maintain oceans and rivers better.

MSS resource teacher Earnie Olsen expected most of the kids to get most of the questions wrong, given the fact that most of the students did not have prior knowledge of what they were going to learn on the trip.

“There were so many questions where I was just completely lost,” said junior Chris Molinelli.

After the students found out what they were getting into, Olsen took them out on the boat and onto the river. He told the students about what was in the mud that helped all the fish and vegetation around it, as well as why there is sawgrass on the beds of the river.

Olsen took water samples to test clarity and used a device to read salinity and water temperature. All these things are important in helping the surrounding environment.

“All the cool gadgets he had actually had a good use to them to see what the water is like in the surrounding area,” said junior Kendal Stark.

The class then made their way out to Shell Island, testing all the same things and learning how the water was actually saltier in the river further from the Gulf than it was on the island right on the Gulf.

All the things Olsen taught actually interested the students.

“All the things we got to see come up were actually pretty cool to see. I have not seen anything like it before,” said junior Bradley Hendrickson.

The trip took students all the way down the channel out to the first marker in the gulf, and then Olsen stopped and told the students that they were going to use a net to capture fish, shrimp, crabs and other things to check out what is really in the water other than fish.

After sorting out the rest of the contents, the students headed back to the station. The students had a quick break for lunch then took a post-test. This test was the same as the first one. It was taken to see what students learned throughout the course of the day. 100% of the class got almost every question right.

“This trip surprised me. I honestly did not think I would actually learn much going into this, but leaving here today I have a whole new look on the environment around me. I’m going to do my best to help,” said Quintanilla.