By Michelle Marraffini
Invertebrate Zoology Lab
It’s that time of year again, summer. The glorious few months off from classes we graduate students have to catch up of research, work, and sometimes even fun things. Me and a few of my fellow labmates took some time off from work this past few weeks to play hooky for a cause. We volunteered with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Young Women in Science program to help middle school girls in this summer camp monitor the beach for sand crabs and learn how to boogie board. The camp’s aim is help empower young girls interested in science to be guardians of the ocean. Many of these girls have never been swimming in the ocean before and we enjoyed showed the girls the fun of splashing in the surf.
You may remember me talking about this event from last summer, but since it is such a wonderful program I had to post it again. This year even more women from MLML and MBARIs summer intern program came out to help local girls learn more about the ocean. We spent half of the day using the scientific method and sampling along a transect to look for sand crabs. The campers were encouraged to form hypotheses about where the crabs were living and use results to think about larger food webs and ecosystem processes. After lunch and a safety lesson on currents and waves from the lifeguards, girls rushed towards the ocean with boogie boards in tow ready to conquer this new frontier. We ran in after them and helped them learn to catch a wave and dive under ones that were too big.
This camp is a weeklong and the girls get to do some amazing activities like kayaking the Elkhorn Slough and playing with us in the ocean. Many of these girls might not otherwise get these experiences so the camp aims to bring them new knowledge of the ocean and coastal environments as well as making science approachable and fun.