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Diving into science

All year long Logan Carstensen's seventh grade Lake Middle School science classes have been studying ecosystems, the environment, life science and even marine biology.

Starting March 12 students will be able to experience what they've learned first-hand when they travel to Florida for spring break.

Carstensen will take 12 seventh and eighth grade students to both the Florida Keys and the Everglades for a five-day trip, March 12 to March 16.

"I've always wanted to do a science trip," he said.

Carstensen said he initially looked at Costa Rica as a possible destination, but Florida ultimately ended up being the better option in terms of cost and feasibility.

The Lake Middle School group will be participating in WorldStrides' Splash into Science program.

WorldStrides has provided over 4 million travel programs to elementary, middle, high school and college students since its inception in 1967, according to its website.

The mission of WorldStrides is "Enriching students' lives through experiential travel."

Splash into Science introduces concepts of environmental science, marine biology and life science.

During the five-day trip, Lake Middle School students will experience a variety of science-related activities including: hiking the Mangrove Wild Tamarind Trails; and constructing ecosystems at John Pennekamp State Park.

Other activities include swimming with dolphins, visiting the Turtle Hospital where students will study the diversity of marine life, examine X-rays, and learn about conservation efforts of rescued sea turtles; going on a suspended bridge tour through the Curry Hammock State Park; snorkeling at Sundiver Reef; taking a kayak trip through Garden Cove; and taking a tram tour through the Everglades.

"You can read about alligators or you can see a picture of a turtle in a book, but you can never really know unless you get to actually experience it," Carstensen said. "You learn so much more by being there."

Lake Middle School seventh grader Emily Cheasick said she is extremely excited to be able to experience nature first-hand.

"I've always been interested in marine biology," she said. "I thought this would be a great opportunity to learn more."

In addition to the daily excursions, the students will have nightly education sessions with a coordinator from WorldStrides where they will learn about the things they have been experiencing such as: waves and water; energy and ecosystems; atmospheric cycles; marine life; environmental interactions; and marine careers.

"I don't know exactly what I want to learn - I don't have expectations," said eighth grader Bobby Renning. "But I just want to learn as much as I can while I am there."

Carstensen said he is confident the trip will be a success.

"I have a good group of kids," he said.

Carstensen said he would love to make the Florida trip an annual opportunity for students.

"I'm excited to see other parts of Florida that I've never seen before," he said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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