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Students exploring algae at the Algae Lab. (Photo: Shirley Chu)
Every year, students at The Village School have the opportunity to go on a class trip outside of the city. This year, from Tuesday, Nov. 27 to Saturday, Dec. 1, the juniors stayed at the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) off the coast of California.
“It was refreshing to spend a week without our phones and get to fully experience what Catalina Island had to offer,” junior Leyah Mathew said. “I was also able to get to know some of my peers a lot better, which I really enjoyed.”
At CIMI, the students were engaged in an outdoor educational experience. They participated in various terrestrial and marine biology labs, including the Fish, Plastic, Sharks and Rays, Marine Mammals, Invertebrates, Algae, Plankton and Oceanography Labs.
“The labs in the institute were very interactive and informative,” junior Vincent Ho said. “It’s great to learn about all the things in the sea and to experience it from a different perspective. What I learned most importantly [from the labs] was the severity of pollution in the ocean and what it has done to our ecosystem. It was horrible to know what a single piece of trash does when it starts to disrupt the native marine life. However, it has opened my eyes.”
Students hiking and exploring the island’s terrestrial ecosystem.
After visiting each of the labs, the students were required to work in their assigned groups to complete a science project. For students enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, the project served as their “Group 4 project,” an interdisciplinary activity required by the program, serving to encourage collaboration, appreciation for the environment and understanding of the implications of science and technology.
“I found the IB science project to be interesting - our group chose to study the diversity and density of plankton in one drop of ocean water at different depths,” Mathew said. “I didn’t realize just how much life can be found in a single drop of ocean water; this truly changed my perspective on marine life.”
Besides the educational aspects of the trip, the students also had the opportunity to partake in other activities, including snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, and squid dissections.
“My favorite part of the trip was the night snorkel,” Ho said. “The experience was unforgettable. Most people may have seen the bioluminescence of the plankton before, however, for me, it was my first time. I was awed by the glowing lights in the water almost like fireflies. I would definitely try this out again just to see this phenomenon.”