For several years, Discovery Hall Programs of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab has partnered with the Alabama State Department of Education’s ACCESS (Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide) distance learning program to bring Alabama’s coast and ocean literacy to all Alabama’s students. They have another exciting semester of programs to share, including programs on the marine mammals found in Alabama’s waters, Alabama’s Incredible Invertebrates, Alabama’s Wonderful Wetlands and a show about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Last Fall’s programs featured programs on the incredible variety of turtles in our region, the invasive species found in coastal Alabama and the problems they cause, and their ever popular show on sharks and rays that allows students to get the ‘inside scoop’ as it features a shark dissection.
These virtual field trip programs connect students in Alabama’s classrooms to an educator at the Sea Lab using video conferencing technology. DISL can show students live animals collected from local habitats or animals from the exhibits in our aquarium, the Estuarium. A multiple camera system allows for close up examination of shell shape or internal organs or a wide field view of a dolphin skeleton or a live lionfish. The technology permits questions and conversations between the students in the classroom and the educator at DISL during the program. Tina Miller-Way, Chair of Discovery Hall Programs said, “I am amazed at the changes in the technology for this type of interaction just over the 5 years we have been working with ACCESS. Students can now ask questions while we are showing them the size of a liver in a human-sized shark or the venomous spines on a lionfish without many of the technological glitches we used to have. Although we wish every student in Alabama could visit and learn about the ocean in person at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, we hope these programs bring some of the excitement about the ocean and Alabama’s marine animals to students.”
The next DISL-ACCESS program is on Feb 21 and will feature Alabama’s Incredible Inverts! Educator Chris Flight has some fascinating live animals for you to see. Two sessions are available; 9-10:00 and 10:15–11:15 am. The earlier session is geared for younger students. All programs are tied to the Alabama Course of Study Standards (please see our website for details). On Feb. 21 will be a program on Alabama’s marine mammals. JoAnn Moody will talk about the manatees that frequent Mobile Bay as well as what species of whales are found in the Gulf of Mexico. To register for a program, please click here or go to the ACCESS program’s website (http://alex.state.al.us/alabamadlm/). If you are interested in these programs and your school does not have the technology required or you are unable to join us at these times, please contact Discovery Hall Programs at 251-861-2141, 7515 or email DHPvirtualfieldtrips@disl.org. We may be able to help bring these programs to your students using different technology.