Foothill students fish for science!

Maya Morales

100_1844A group of Bioscience students set out on February 18th 2010 on the murky waters close to the local islands to collect and select several rockfish samples. Miss Perez’ Biotech class was searching for ten different species of fish, once caught, to be dissected. Coastal Marine Biolabs, located in Ventura Harbor, worked with the small group of students, teaching and guiding their research.

According to Perez, this is the first time that the Bioscience Academy at Foothill has done this type of experiment. With the students’ research and DNA samples, they are working to aid different marine science organizations. As an added bonus, they are already learning this stuff in class, so having this hands-on experience is, as Perez states, “really good to be a part of something that is relevant.” After all, the whole point is a learning experience.

“What’s so innovative about the project is that we’re high school students (who are) going to be published.” Perez says, with a gleam of excitement in her eyes.

These students caught and dissected each of the fish they caught, each finding tissue samples and isolating DNA. The dissections preformed benefit those who are researching tissue samples, particularly those in the marine biology field. Once the fish are dissected, the students send their data out to be sequenced and uploaded to the national data base. Building this database is a global effort, with about two hundred and fifty labs participating. Their goal is to have as much DNA as possible for other people to use. “It’s really cool that they got to be part of something that’s relevant.” Perez says of her students.

It’s the big picture that Perez and her students are helping with. “The more we understand, the more we protect.” She comments. The motto of Coastal Marine Biolabs is, fittingly enough, “One world, One Science.” The students of Foothill’s Bioscience Academy are involved with this program from start to finish, and they don’t seem to mind either.

“It was a great experience as opposed to constructed labs.” Says Noam Kywi, one of the students who is enthusiastic about the Academy and has participated in this experiment.

After spending an entire day out on the water and in the labs, the students learned the frustrations and experiences of being a real marine biologist. Part of the science is patience when pursuing answers to questions that have taunted scientists for years. The students are able to take away from what they put into the projects, and this transformation from labs to hands-on experience is heading the way for the Bioscience Academy.

Photos courtesy of Miss Darcy Perez.

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