Sanibel Sea School receives grant for mobile lab
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation recently awarded the Sanibel Sea School a grant for a new program, called “A Taste of Salt.” As part of the foundation’s 2020 Community Impact Grants, the island organization received funding to share the ocean with underserved children in Southwest Florida through a mobile science laboratory.
“Our mobile science lab will bring that technology to the field,” Dr. Bruce Neill, co-founder of the Sanibel Sea School, said. “Our mobile science lab can help us bring the ocean and technology to students who don’t get a chance to experience either.”
The mobile lab will expose students to marine science and technology, independent of their location. A Taste of Salt will be a transportable lab that will share the ocean with underprivileged students and, ultimately, provide the field trips they crave.
The program will help facilitate education in two ways – outdoor education in the field and on-the-go, hands-on education at public schools. The beach-side use of the lab will allow students to dip their toes in the ocean, smell the stinky fish and taste the salty air, then step into a technologically-appropriate science lab.
“Experiential education is a way to immerse people in education to stimulate the senses, as well as the mind,” Neill said. “For much of what we experience in nature, we need assistance – in particular microscopy,.”
The lab will also travel to schools for immersive, STEM-based marine science education, and alleviate the transportation barrier than many students face.
“We need to be able to explore what is in a drop of sea water – that ultimately supports life on this planet. We need to be able to see the tiny pores that allow plants to breathe,” he said. “We need just a small bit of technology to fully explore the natural world that surrounds us.”
The Sanibel Sea School will begin constructing the laboratory immediately.
In addition, Neill and the education team will begin working with science teachers in Lee County to create a supplemental marine science curriculum that will be utilized in field trips with the lab.
Implementation of the program scheduled for late spring.