On June 18, 2013 twelve Viewpoint Upper School students traveled to St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, for an eight-day scientific opportunity of a lifetime.

Led by Craig Didden, Chair of Viewpoint’s Science Department, and Assistant Head of Upper School Katrina Fuller, the students will be actively involved in researching coral reefs, deploying scientific equipment, and collecting data as part of an ongoing 25-year research project on the island of St. John. The program is a collaboration between Viewpoint School, California State University, Northridge, and the United States National Science Foundation (Research Experience for Teachers—RET).

“This is an incredible opportunity for students to engage in research sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation, and to apply what they have learned in the classroom to natural processes,” said Mr. Didden. “The experience is targeted at students with a serious interest in biological careers, which will involve extensive coursework at the university level, and a commitment to science.”

Our students are excited to see firsthand how coral reefs of the Caribbean have changed over the past 25 years, and what scientists are doing to better understand their biology. “Long-term monitoring of the coral reefs in St. John is extremely important to develop an accurate picture of the health of the reef,” explained Mr. Didden. “Such activities are now underway on most coral reef systems in the world, and it is a rare opportunity for our students to have the chance to be a part of this research.”

The students are staying at the Virgin Island Environmental Resource Station “VIERS,” which is located in Lameshur Bay on St. John. “This is a rustic field station nestled behind the mangrove swamps of the bay, and it provides unrivalled access to a fully natural and pristine environment,” said Mr. Didden. “The absence of air conditioning, street lamps, TV and the normal distractions of urban life make this a location where transformative educational experiences occur.”

Head to the full website to enjoy these journal postings from the students and check back often for more updates.

A Unique Summer Opportunity: Viewpoint’s Marine Science Students Conduct Field Research in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

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