Snorkeling with Ocean Sciences

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By: Kayla Smith | Contributing Writer

Many science labs stay within structured walls and air conditioning. Dr. Amy Sprinkle took students in her Marine Science class to St. Andrew’s State Park in Panama City, Florida for a weekend. They would snorkel around the jetties on the beach and brace the wild for a night. 

Saturday afternoon on Sep. 28, students arrived at the beach in Panama City with towels and snorkeling gear in hand. They ran into the water in pairs in search of marine life, finding schools of fish willing to swim with them. 

When asked about the overall goal of the trip, Sprinkle said she wanted to get kids out of labs and really experience learning without knowing that they are learning. She aims to give interested students, as these trips are open to any and all USA students, the chance to explore beyond a structured environment and do what cannot be done within a class period. 

“Interacting with students is my favorite [part] as I enjoy getting to know them better,” said Sprinkle about the appeal behind organizing these types of trips. “But I just love seeing students get excited about seeing and experiencing things they’ve never seen before. First-time campers or first-time snorkelers seeing things in the water and getting excited about it makes me excited.” 

Jillian Kennedy, a student who participated in this trip, also had a lot to say about snorkeling in Panama City. Like her campmates, she went on this trip to have waterside amusement. Kennedy just wanted to spend time with classmates and go camping. She ended up getting more than what she bargained for on this trip.

“This makes me want to love [marine biology] more. Getting to do hands-on things and being apart of it, it’s opening up my eyes even more,” said Kennedy. “The snorkeling was a lot of fun. Seeing the fish and all the shells, like seeing a whole new set of life was really fun.”

With such a positive response to this trip, Sprinkle and the Marine Science Club are hosting another on Oct. 15. They will be kayaking along Dauphin Island. Sprinkle says anyone is welcome to join. If you would like to join or get more information, contact Dr. Amy Sprinkle at sprinkle@southalabama.edu

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