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MEGSA to Display Research at Upcoming Mississippi Aquarium Homeschool Days

Tue, 05/07/2024 - 09:56am | By: Gabriela Shinskie


Homeschool students will have the opportunity to dive into research and explore Marine Biology with the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Marine and Estuarine Graduate Student Association (MEGSA) at the upcoming Homeschool Days event on May 16 at the Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport, Miss.

The Homeschool Days events are held once a month in the spring and fall to welcome all homeschool communities to explore different areas of science. The event “All the Ologies” will be presented at the aquarium where students will learn about the study of animals, behavior, and environment. MEGSA will display Marine Biology research and hands-on activities.

Micayla Cochran, graduate research assistant at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL), emphasizes the importance of USM to showcase coastal research to the young community.

“I think it is important for MEGSA to participate in this event because we have a responsibility as scientists to share our work with audiences of all ages. USM and GCRL conducts such wonderful research and doing outreach such as this helps create visibility and fosters strong relationships with the local community who is affected by the work that we do,” expresses Cochran. “I also think this event provides us with a wonderful opportunity as grad students to develop our skills in creating and implementing a successful outreach program."

MEGSA will showcase a Shell ID activity with a variety of shells explaining animal diversity accompanied with videos to explain lab research focused on shellfish. A seagrass diagram will explain how seagrass surveys are done along with species identification. Students can join in on marine biology fun through an interactive plinko board to demonstrate crab migration throughout Gulf Coast waterways.

MEGSA believes in the value of community outreach through beach clean ups and volunteering at events like Homeschool Days. Hailee Nigro, MEGSA Vice President, hopes these events will inspire young scientists to pursue passion and curiosity.

“MEGSA strives to connect our students with those of the surrounding communities, to exchange experiences and education, and to interact with people of all ages who care about the Mississippi Gulf coast and its living resources. In providing the community with educational services, the community provides us with invaluable tokens of their own local knowledge and opportunities for collaboration,” said Nigro.

Added Emma Coltman, GCRL graduate research assistant, “Events like this are one of the ways that scientists can inspire younger generations to stay inquisitive about their environment. MEGSA is a great organization that has a variety of students working on different projects, which would inspire any young individual looking to explore the ocean and its organisms."

MEGSA is a graduate student organization housed at GCRL. Students have an open space to discuss ideas, research and participate in community outreach events. Learn more about MEGSA and the School of Ocean Science and Engineering.