Contact: Shelley Dawicki
Education at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium
Approximately 85,000 people tour the Woods Hole Science Aquarium (WHSA) every year. Between 2002 and 2015, one million visitors were counted. Many of these are K-6 school groups from around New England that visit during the school year. Visitorship peaks in the summer when local residents are joined by tourists and the swell of researchers and their students who conduct summer studies in the village. By the fall, the aquarium has had visitors from nearly every state and around the globe.
The Aquarium offers competitive internship opportunities in the summer months for both high school and college students. Interns have been part of the aquarium for decades, but in more recent years the annual number has varied but has averaged about 12 summer student interns per year.
This summer, 11 high school and two college students will spend between two and 10 weeks as interns in the aquarium, depending on the program. The two college students are from the University of Chicago, while the 11 high school students come from public and private high schools from nine states. States represented include Texas, California, Ohio, Georgia, New York, Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.
Two of the high school students will be participating in the five-week internship July 2-August 3 and nine students will attend the two-week Careers in Marine science seminar July 23-August 3. Interns in the five-week program spend approximately 20-25 hours per week in the aquarium helping to care for animals. The interns learn about marine animal husbandry, aquarium operations, conservation, and public education. They also serve as assistant naturalists for shore-side collecting walks for the public held in July, and participate in the two-week careers in marine science seminar.
The two-week career seminar is designed to give students an idea of what people working in Woods Hole science institutions do, and how different disciplines contribute to the larger effort to understand the marine world and to manage marine resources wisely.They will be introduced to animal husbandry and basic aquarist skills, hear presentations from scientists working in a variety of marine fields, go on a collecting trip, and visit other Woods Hole science institutions and another aquarium.
In addition to the many school groups that visit during the academic year, several additional education programs are focused on other audiences. All freshmen students interested in pursuing the environmental science and technology program at the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Bourne, Mass. visit in the fall. Juniors at the school who are enrolled in that program spend three days in the late winter/early spring at the Aquarium attending a science seminar and learning about animal husbandry.
A similar partnership with the Codman Academy has brought students from the inner-city charter high school in Boston to the Aquarium for three days to learn about careers, animal husbandry and some of the research conducted at the Woods Hole Laboratory.
Since 2002, nearly 200 high school and college students have participated in the Aquarium's education programs. Several recent high school summer interns are now college interns in other education programs at the Woods Hole Laboratory, including the NOAA Hollings Scholars program, and the Woods Hole Partnership Education Program.