Salish Sea School
The Salish Sea School is offering students from 10 – 17 STaRS - a year-long scientific inquiry and mentoring program. STaRS is comprised of two different student groups, each with a different study topic: “Fins” and “Feathers.” The Fins group will monitor marine mammals in the Salish Sea, including pinnipeds, porpoises, baleen whales, and orcas. Students will collect data for local research organizations for the marine mammals listed. The “Feathers” group will collect data for local marine birds and forage fish populations, including documentation of the state endangered Tufted Puffin population at one of the last remaining breeding groups in our inland waters (Smith Island). Field work begins in March and students will collect data 1-2 times a month through October.
The goal of STaRS is to help students develop critical analysis skills, experience the scientific approach, provide essential exposure and kick-start a personal connection to the Salish Sea. Ultimately it encourages personal marine conservation efforts and places students in advocacy leadership roles using the best available science. STaRS will also provide students with experience and exposure to:
• Tools, techniques, and mentors necessary to gain field research and data collection experience in marine science,
• Knowledge on how to develop research questions (or work on ones already being investigated),
• A better understanding of how science and research can influence policy and action steps for conservation,
• Analysis of a range of issues such as environmental changes, human impacts on the ocean, and importance of biodiversity, • Evaluation of scientific literature,
• Development of communication skills (to be used at the annual symposium) and
• Valuing participation of female, underrepresented minority, and first-generation college-bound students in marine science research.
The grant will provide an underwater RC drone as an addition to the available research gear. It will greatly help with data collection on the Tufted Puffin population status and forage fish population as both are rarely viewed and documented from underwater.