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Scientists and Researchers Explore Immersive Science Learning for Rutgers Undergraduates

Researchers at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) have been exploring innovative ways to engage undergraduates in research and science learning. SEBS has undertaken a series of pilot projects that offer high school and undergraduate students ways to engage with STEM subjects in partnership with university scientists.

“As researchers and educators, we are interested in how students are motivated to create compelling environment stories for the public because of their sense of responsibility to the science and the featured scientists,” said Xenia Morin, associate teaching professor at SEBS and undergraduate program director of the Agriculture and Food Systems major.

Guided by science communication researcher Dena Seidel, undergraduates work in teams to develop science-in-action video stories about New Jersey marine ecosystems and plant-based crops and products developed to improve nutrition and public health.

“These students first establish trusting partnerships with researchers and then they document the scientific process over time. The students’ immersive learning includes the reiterative process of shaping many hours of science-in-action video data into story form that includes the scientists’ goals, research efforts and change over time,” said Seidel.

Horseshoe crab rest in a slough on the mudflats inshore of researchers who set up experiment monitoring equipment at low tide. In this picture you can see horseshoe crabs in a slough on the mudflats in the foreground, and researchers in the background setting up a sonar to monitor horseshoe crabs in the background. The sonar is being set up on the inshore edge of the oyster farm and during low tide, it will allow researchers to ‘watch’ horseshoe crabs as they move ashore to spawn.

The first completed science story, Life on the Edge: Exploring New Jersey’s Ocean Ecosystem, is a product of undergraduates Natalie Radu, a senior at Rutgers Business School, pursuing a SEBS minor in Plant Biology, Angie Catt, a SEBS sophomore majoring in Agriculture and Food Systems, and Micah Seidel, a SEBS sophomore majoring in Biological Sciences.

Their 13-minute video features a team of marine scientists, led by associate professor Daphne Munroe, studying the epic annual horseshoe migration that transforms New Jersey beaches.

“It is so important for students to have a chance to participate in research like this, that matters in the real world and contributes to sustainable solutions for coastal ecosystem,” said Munroe.

Full article at Rutgers Newsroom