It's understandably difficult to teach marine biology in a landlocked state, so Ginger Fisher needed to get creative.
To serve as the lab for her marine biology course, the assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences took eight students from the lecture portion of the course to the Central American country of Belize during spring break to examine aquatic life at the source.
The examination in the Caribbean Sea made for a learning environment that the classroom could not.
"We looked at marine-field techniques, and clearly the exposure to the habitats we talk about in class was a big goal," Fisher, Ph.D., said. "We wanted to give our science majors the opportunity to travel abroad."
In addition to snorkeling and hiking, students were often paired in teams to answer questions about a certain location and its inhabitants, identifying different species and creating a final research project and lab report.
Fisher said the group was fortunate to see several types of marine life on the trip, including nurse sharks, sting rays, octopi, eels, crabs, turtles and countless species of fish.
By spending a week on an island on the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest in the world, the students were treated to a gorgeous and almost-untouched natural classroom. Pictures from the group's trip can be seen below.
About the course
This was the first year the Belize trip was offered as a part of the course's laboratory component, and it will continue to be offered every other spring semester. The only prerequisites for the course are an introductory biology class (BIO 110), so it is not limited to majors only, and knowing how to swim, of course. For more information, contact Fisher at email@example.com.