High school students get up close and personal with marine biology | News

DAMASCUS, Va. — Ryland Harrison, a sophomore at Holston High School, said she learned more on a recent biology field trip to the coast than she will ever get from a school textbook.

“Actually seeing and doing really makes things stick,” she said.

Harrison is among 60 students from Holston, Patrick Henry and Abingdon high schools who recently immersed themselves in coastal ecology during a trip to the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, North Carolina. They lived on campus for the five-day experience.

The coastal adventure is organized each year by educator Steve Ahn, who is rethinking the way he teaches biology at Holston High School.


“Captain Joe” on the research vessel Capricorn tells the students about the technology available on board the ship.

Ahn partners with teachers Eric Hoffman, of Patrick Henry High School, Kim Laws and Paula Nichols, of Abingdon High, and Aaron Napier and Travis Gray, of Holston High, to make it possible for other students in the county to participate.

“For me, this trip is the best form of education. It’s totally experiential. There’s a huge emotional component because the students connect with young people from other schools, and they do things they’ve never done or seen before,” Ahn said.

“Some of our students have never seen a beach before taking this trip,” he said.

That was the case for 15-year-old Deanna Ault.


Sara Phine Scott, a student at Patrick Henry High School (left), and Adia Ahn inspect the day’s catch…

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