It’s rare to find a college syllabus that includes items like snorkeling, coral reef research, fish identification and trawling for plankton. It’s rarer still to find a summer class that meets on a boat, a marine research base and in a fully functioning laboratory on the island of Bermuda.
But for the eight students who enrolled in Brookdale’s short-term study abroad courses in Statistics and Environmental Science this summer, rare became reality.
From June 20 to 26, the students studied alongside mathematics professor Arminda Wey, environmental science instructor Juliette Goulet, and a team of researchers and scientists at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) facility in Ferry Reach, Bermuda. Dividing their time between the BIOS laboratories, research vessels, classrooms, caves and the open ocean, the cohort was able to learn and apply valuable skills in subjects like data analytics, scientific research and marine biology.
“The students got to actually go and collect some of their own data, after they learned to identify various types of fish and coral and plant life,” said Wey. “They got so much done. We were often working from 9 in the morning to 8 o’clock at night. But then we would go to an aquarium or get out in the water and they would recognize things and notice things that they weren’t able to before. It was a lot of work, but it was a tremendous learning experience.”
While some students focused solely on statistics or environmental science, others studied both disciplines simultaneously, working toward a combined eight credits toward their Brookdale degree. Each participant completed an independent research project throughout the trip, presenting the results during an Adventure Sharing Session in the Student Life Center in Lincroft upon their return.
Maggie Ciufo, a first-year biology major, said the trip helped her uncover a deep passion for the work of marine biologists.
“This trip actually made me want to go into marine biology,” said Ciufo, of Howell. “Getting to know the scientists and their projects, and seeing how enthusiastic they were about their work, really helped me see myself being there.
“We also explored some caves and did some snorkeling, which was amazing,” she added. “I bought a little identification card for the fish, so I was able to point them out to everyone else. People would always swim around me so I could point out the different fish. I loved it.”
The study-abroad excursion – one of many available at Brookdale throughout the school year – was offered as part of the college’s seven-week, four-credit summer courses in statistics (MATH 131) and environmental science (ENVR 107). Students could also enroll in the program as part of a 200-level special project in either subject, or complete both courses simultaneously at a discounted rate.
Ciufo, who had never left the country prior to the Bermuda trip, said she encourages all Brookdale students to take advantage of a study abroad program before graduating.
“Even if it’s not in your field of study, give it a shot,” said Ciufo, adding that she is now applying for an internship at the BIOS facility.
“I went on this trip with my roommate, who is actually a human services major, and one night we went snorkeling and saw the bioluminescense, which is glowing plankton. We collected some plankton and looked at it in the lab later, and my favorite quote from the trip was when she said, ‘Is this what it’s like to like science?’ Which is a great. Getting out in the field and collecting her own data, she realized that it’s cool. Science is awesome when you get to experience it yourself.
“I’d encourage anyone, even if you aren’t a science or a math major, to go on a trip like this,” Ciufo added. “You can learn so much, and it opens up new doors into things you might have thought weren’t all that interesting before.”
To learn more about Brookdale’s Study Abroad programs, including available Study Abroad scholarships for current students, click here.
Check out more photos of the Bermuda Study Abroad trip here.