An internship "behind the scenes" at The University of
Southern Mississippi's Scott Aquarium has Hancock High School science
teacher Brian Fitch thinking about new strategies for his classroom.
The Bay St.
Louis resident teaches microbiology and environmental science and
has just finished a two-week internship as part of Mississippi Gulf
Coast School-to-Career Partnership. The program places teachers
in working environments at businesses, institutions and organizations
on the coast so they can take real-world experiences in various
careers back to their classrooms.
sharks, fed snakes, cleaned tanks, learned how to use a spectrophotometer
and dissolved oxygen meter and lots of other things," Fitch
said. "It was a challenge learning how to properly feed all
the different types of organisms at the aquarium, especially learning
their nutritional needs."
has been keeping various kinds of animals since he was small, described
his Scott Aquarium experience with the predominantly Gulf of Mexico
marine and coastal critters as "like being a kid in a candy
his learning experiences in large part to Scott Aquarium's head
aquarist, Buck Schesny. Schesny was his primary mentor during the
internship and is a recent recipient of Southern Miss's annual staff
excellence award in the category of skilled crafts.
very knowledgeable about all aspects of this job," Fitch said.
"He has so much practical knowledge, and he can also build
just about anything he needs in the aquarium.
animals, and this experience reinforced a lot of what I already
knew. It stressed hygiene, proper nutrition and meeting the animals'
basic needs," Fitch said.
intern said the difference in scale was definitely a new experience:
large fish, large tanks and large filtration systems along with
specialized instruments and laboratory equipment to help maintain
the health of the animals and their environments.
In the midst
of work that was demanding physically and intellectually, Fitch
came to some conclusions about what he wants to take back to his
classroom in August.
going to have more of an ecological approach," he said. "In
all my classes, even microbiology, we are going to spend more time
outdoors, collecting and observing naturally occurring organisms."
The J.L. Scott
Marine Education Center and Aquarium is part of the Southern Miss
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.