Pre-college Ocean Discovery and Science Program (PODS) in The Bahamas

two people standing in water collecting data

By Katrina Munsterman

Earlier this month, I led a 4-day field course for Bahamian high school students to learn how to ask scientific questions, design an experiment, collect field data, and analyze and present their findings. The course was held at Friends of the Environment Research Center in Marsh Harbour, Abaco in The Bahamas. Each day, we took field trips to local beaches and mangroves to practice species identification, learn about the natural history, and collect field data. At night, EEB undergrad, Natalie Walton, and I led the students through exercises including how to enter and analyze data, field journaling, and field work tips and tricks. Throughout it all, there was no shortage of laughter and curiosity.

PODS student collecting data on mangrove propagules. Students learn how to estimate benthic cover, identify plant and algae species, and measure mangroves. Image credit: Katrina Munsterman

This field course followed a 6-month long virtual lecture series led by Sammy Iliff and Jake Allgeier from the Coastal Ecology and Conservation Lab in EEB. The next step in the program is to help students navigate college applications and other post-high school education. Learn more about the PODS program and Friends of the Environment here.

Good times all around with the PODS students. All 5 are from local communities around Abaco, The Bahamas. Image credit: Katrina Munsterman
Field work can also include exploration! Each day, we went on snorkeling expeditions to find new species and explore new sites. On this day, the students were eager to swim to a rock offshore. Here we found sea stars, sea hares, and lots of reef fish! Image credit: Natalie Walton