Students Return from Wallops Island

Two classes of marine biology students recently traveled to the Marine Science Consortium in Wallops Island, Va., to get some hands-on experience with the organisms they have been studying in class. 

The trip serves as the lab portion of the Introduction to Marine Biology course taught by Jessica Nolan, Ph.D. The course focuses on environmental characteristics, adaptations of organisms and the communities found in the marine ecosystems.

"The purpose of the trip is to give students a chance to ‘do’ science and to apply the concepts we have been talking about in class to the places we visit on the Eastern Shore," said Nolan.

Students designed and performed their own experiments on the organisms they caught while exploring the different ecological communities on the island. They also traveled through salt marshes, dune systems and on a boat in the bay to observe organisms and catch as many as they could to study. 

"I hope that students start to get an understanding for how science works, so when they have to make an informed decision about a local, science-related issue later in life, they will have the tools to do so," Nolan added.

The Wallops Island trip has been part of the course for more than 30 years.