Connecting students to the places they live has been a cornerstone of the curriculum at the Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA) since inception 15 years ago. By engaging students in a locally based research project in the Salish Sea, ORCA has graduated over 400 students that have direct, hands-on experiences in the Snohomish River Estuary.
This program has been awarded three grants from the National Science Foundation, and is a collaborative partner with CCURI. Through incorporating active learning strategies such as undergraduate research, students have engaged deeply in the biogeochemical processes of a salt wedge estuary.
Over the course of an entire year, students collect oceanographic metrics and utilize their emerging mathematical and communication skills to analyze and interpret the longitudinal data set that includes temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, chlorophyll concentration, turbidity, nutrient levels, fecal coliform levels and plankton presence and abundance. Additional monitoring of seabird and marine mammal abundance and distribution round out the expansive data set.
As students grapple with real data that they collected, their understanding of the nature of science improves. These data represent value to not only the ORCA community, but other collaborators as well. Students present their work at conferences such as the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference and the annual Possession Sound Student Showcase and Talks.
Come learn more about this local work. Learn more at www.everettcc.edu/orca