Carefree Learner: Sarasota High School’s Floating Classroom
The Carefree Learner begins by heading out onto Sarasota Bay. Once over the seagrass beds, an otter trawl net is deployed to collect organisms. Students search through bins loaded with sponges, seaweed, and a variety of animals. Sponges are searched for invertebrates, and animals are placed in the centrally located aquariums for observation and discussion later on in the trip.
With the sponges released back into the bay to regenerate, we start making our way to the Robert’s Bay Bird Rookery, one of Florida’s most successful breeding colonies. Depending on the time of year students can observe mating behaviors, nest building, feeding, and juveniles of a variety of native bird species.
As we make our way back to the dock, the instructor fishes out the various animals we collected from the aquariums for discussion. Species’ roles and relationships, defensive adaptations, reproductive methods, feeding, and habitat is discussed in detail. The CFL then makes her way into Hudson Bayou to review the ecological importance of mangrove and seagrasses to Florida (erosion, fisheries, etc.).
Additional field trip options include a plankton tow, invasive species walk of Edwards Island, and water quality.