2015 Da Vinci Senior Class visits the University of Texas Austin Marine Science Institute. Port Aransas, Texas Sept 2014.
Our Da Vinci Senior Students researched environmental issues aboard the UTMSI (University of Texas Marine Science Institute) Katy. They had the oppurnunity to encounter a very diverse marine life such as dolphins, squid, shrimp, ribbon fish, rays, star fish, plankton, diatoms, seagulls, etc. The Da Vinci seniors even met an owl and a hawk at the Animal Rehabilitation Center! This experience became an eye opener for the Da Vinci Seniors. Meeting new life forms, beaches, and savoring delectable sea food is an experiance not often available in El Paso, Texas. Some of our seniors spoke with a supervisor and thanked the University for inviting and granting them the opportunity to visit this magnificent ecosystem. In addition, the University expressed that they would enjoy seeing more of the Da Vinci Seniors every school year. The University is usually visited by students in the surrounding areas, but they are rarely visited by students all the way from El Paso, Texas.
During this experience the Da Vinci Seniors became aware of the consequences of littering and how this practice pollutes the environment. Beautiful oceans were filled with trash that had either fallen into the ocean from industrial ships or had been discarded near the beach. Examples of such trash are plastic bottles, shoes, hard hats, etc. Nevertheless, the Da Vinci Seniors visited St. Joe’s Island and collected trash that had washed up on the beach; rescuing the environment little by little. After this, they went to the UTMSI lab to analyze all the trash they had collected. In this process, they noticed most of the trash is plastic, because other denser objects would sink to the bottom of the ocean (imagine all the trash underneath the ocean!) They learned that even residents in El Paso can cause harm to the marine ecosystem by dumping waste into the Rio Grande and allowing it to travel to the Gulf of Mexico.
Throughout this experience, the seniors stayed in the UTMSI dorms with a stunning view of the ocean, a nearby lake, and an Animal Rehabilitation center. This new experience enriched their minds with new knowledge and awareness to save the environment. And of course, they also had fun!
The hands-on experience was described as:
“-Having an open mind about different careers can be fun and educational” – Danica Gutierrez
“-Phenomenal, I will cherish it immensely-” – Nick Hantzopulos
“-Unforgettable and fun experience-“ Carolina Delgado
“-Recycling is needed to prevent damaging a marine habitat-“ Carolina Mercado
“-Activities like these help in the learning process-“ Jaqueline Dominguez
“-I will never forget how dangerous our trash is to sea-life-“ Chris Martinez
“–Seeing trash washed up on shore, was impacting to me-“ Pilar Gonzalez
“-Now I have a profound understanding of marine biology and ecosystems-“ Alexander Hillstrom
“-I can’t believe plastic is killing living organisms in the ocean-“ Jonathan Heckel
“- We can help out the marine ecosystem-“ Leila Martinez
“- The Hands-on experience with marine biologists is unforgettable-“ Felix Avila
“- This unforgettable experience will help me in the future-“ Daniel Hudgens
“- I learned how marine biologists examine and analyze ocean and land life-“ Marcos Gutierrez
“- We need to do more recycling-“ Claudia Becerra
“- It was great to visit a University out of El Paso-“ Karina Robleto.