Kids cast off for learning at SEACAMP

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By The Staff

A group of 56 eighth-graders at Evergreen Middle School will have science in mind when they travel to SEACAMP from Oct. 5-9 in San Diego.

Annie Wandling is looking forward to seeing and learning about the ocean.

“Living in Colorado, I don’t get much exposure to (that),” Wandling said.

Her father, Lee Wandling, also believes the trip will be a positive experience.

“To be able to go out there and experience it for yourself is a valuable thing,” he said.

SEACAMP is a year-round marine biology camp visited by school groups from all over the nation. This trip marks the 11th year a group from Evergreen Middle has traveled to the camp.

Students at SEACAMP participate in workshops, science labs and other activities throughout the week. For the eighth-graders at Evergreen Middle, the camp serves as a welcome addition to curricula they studied in seventh-grade life science classes.

“A lot of (the students) see the practical applications of doing well in science,” said Kim McCormack, trip coordinator and seventh-grade life science teacher. “Once they’re at SEACAMP, they see the counselors and the fact that science is no longer just a textbook and labs. It’s an experience, and it’s fun and engaging.”

All of the students on the trip are also part of the Sea Camp Connections class at the school.

“It’s kind of like an advisement or a club,” said McCormack.

Students can gain more in-depth knowledge on a topic of their choosing such as newspaper writing, yearbook or, in this case, SEACAMP.

“We go over things like classification, a computer program we’ve been doing simulations on, food chains, food webs … that sort of thing,” said McCormack.

The 56 students were chosen from a pool of 75 to 80 kids earlier this year. Students were ranked based on how well they get along with others, whether they had a C or better in science and other criteria. They also had to write an essay explaining why they wanted to attend SEACAMP.

The greatest benefit lies in the counselors, says seventh-grade life science teacher Debbie Miller.

“(The counselors) are all going for their graduate work in either marine biology or oceanography. They have so much information they can pass on to the kids,” said Miller.

Starting from the day of their arrival, the students will be immersed in activities and opportunities to learn about marine biology firsthand.

“The first thing they will do once they get to camp is go straight to the beach,” said SEACAMP assistant director Amy Bergen. The schedule of activities and workshops is full of opportunities for students to learn something new, says Bergen.

Some of the more popular activities the students will participate in include an invertebrate lab, tide pool exercises on the beach, an afternoon snorkeling at Coronado Island and a trip to Sea World.

Eighth-grade physical science teacher Lesley Jankausky is also going on the trip. Jankausky is optimistic that students will find value in what they learn at SEACAMP.

“We’ve actually inspired some kids to go on to study marine biology in college,” Jankausky said. “Even starting in the very first year when Kim (McCormack) only took a group of about 10 students. It inspires a passion in science for the kids.”