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Guest Blog by Bill Andrake: MME high school science symposium recap

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Thursday, April 30, 2015

For over thirty years, the Massachusetts Marine Educators (MME) chapter have held high school marine science symposia, where high school students and their teachers have an opportunity to hear from speakers and participate in workshop sessions led by scientists, students, educators, and other professionals working in a variety of marine related disciplines

In 2013, after many years of running a single event, MME expanded this program by holding two symposia simultaneously, one on the South Shore of Boston at UMass Dartmouth, as well as an event on the North Shore. This year’s North Shore High School Marine Science Symposium (NSHMSS) was held on March 18 at Salem State University in Salem, Mass. 


The program began with a continental breakfast and welcome from the Salem State Administration and Faculty:  Mary Dunn, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Admissions; Ryan Fisher, Biology Department Chair; and Steve Young, Professor of Geography. Next, students and teachers spent two hours in classrooms and labs for hands-on workshop sessions.

Each student had the opportunity to select and participate in two workshops from the fourteen offered on the program. The sessions engaged students in hands-on activities which covered a wide range of marine related topics. Students were able to explore relevant environmental issues by constructing computer maps of sea level rise as well as perform chemistry experiments to understand ocean acidification.


Through squid and fish dissections, students learned about the fascinating biology of cephalopods and how to determine the age of a fish from its otoliths (ear stones). Techniques for exploring the deep were presented in sessions that mapped shipwrecks and engineered underwater vehicles. Students learned about important ecosystems such as coral reefs and the rocky intertidal and could even play detective as they pieced together the actual skeletons of marine mammals. The 28 workshop presenters included scientists, graduate students, educators, as well as other high school students who shared their projects in ocean stewardship.

Following the workshop sessions, all participants gathered in Veteran’s Memorial Hall for our keynote speaker, Liz Magee, who manages the Three Seas Program and diving operations at Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center located in Nahant, Mass. Liz told the story of her two weeks of living and working under the sea as an aquanaut in Fabien Cousteau’s "Mission 31.” She was a part of a team that conducted over one hundred hours of research in 63 feet of water inside and out of the Aquarius Reef Base off the Florida Keys. It was a fascinating adventure and inspirational story and we were so thankful to have Liz share it with all of us.

Following our keynote address the day concluded with a lunch for all the participants and another successful MME event came to a close.

This year’s NSHSMSS was attended by over 150 students and their teachers. Our South Shore event at UMass Dartmouth did not happen this year, however we do plan to hold it in 2016. The High School Marine Science Symposia are events that MME is especially proud to continue to offer as we fulfill our mission which is to support all educators to inspire students of all ages to be stewards of the ocean. In addition, this event may serve as a vehicle for addressing a "Key Focus Area” in the new strategic plan of the National Marine Educators Association to "Engage Youth Leaders.”

More information about our presenters, workshops, and program can be seen by downloading the program >

For more about MME and other events visit their website>

- Bill Andrake, MME Chapter Rep.

Tags:  MME 

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