F.I.N.S. will provide girls with hands-on experience in marine science as shark research volunteers with SRC.
F.I.N.S. provides girls with hands-on experience in marine science as shark research volunteers with SRC. During their day of shark tagging, girls will be extensively involved in the research, helping the SRC crew set and pull in drumlines, and assisting in shark workups, which involves inserting a tag, taking length measurements, and snipping off a tissue sample. These data will inform future conservation and management practices, adding to the research of UM Rosenstiel School shark biologist Neil Hammerschlag, director of the SRC.
“We recognize that today’s students are the scientists and conservationists of tomorrow, and we need our nation’s girls to be part of the next generation’s problem solvers.” said Julia Whidden, a recently finished Fulbright Scholar with SRC and co-founder of F.I.N.S. “We have developed F.I.N.S. to address the gender disparity in STEM fields, the lack of opportunity for young people to engage with nature, and to stimulate public interest in our oceans.”
F.I.N.S. is an extension of Dr. Hammerschlag’s existing community outreach program that engages over 1000 students from a variety of public and private high schools in Miami-Dade County each year. “Research has shown that participating in hands-on, real-world learning experiences increases student engagement in science and the likelihood that they will continue their studies in STEM fields, which is a national educational priority,” said Dr. Hammerschlag. A number of studies suggest that the United States must produce one million more STEM graduates than are projected to graduate over the next decade in order to maintain its historic pre-eminence in the STEM fields. The need for impactful STEM-related programs is particularly acute in Miami-Dade County, where 59 percent of students in the public school system (the nation’s fourth largest) are eligible for free/reduced lunch.