Outside the classroom

A day in the life

Outside the classroom

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The SEASIDE program is a good way to see Nova Scotia and to learn about it from a scientific perspective.

Day trips and camping

The Summer Education and Applied Science Institute at Dalhousie in Ecology—better known as SEASIDE—provides a unique experience, getting students out of the classroom and into the great outdoors. Offered through the Faculty of Science, the SEASIDE program is all about the field trips.

For Ornithology (BIOL 3622)—the scientific study of bird populations—you’ll visit sites near Halifax on day trips. And you’ll spend six days camping in southwestern Nova Scotia, at the Harrison Lewis Field Station in Port Joli. For Field Studies of Marine Mammals (BIOL 3626), students camp for two to four days on Brier Island at the peak of whale-watching season.

On one misty morning in the summer of 2010, students taking Introduction to Marine Life of Nova Scotia (BIOL 2605) disembarked from the bus parked just at the entrance to Peggy’s Cove and followed their professor, Christopher Corkett, over boulders and through bogs to the seashore.

This trip wasn’t your usual tourist jaunt. In fact, these Dalhousie students walking the shores of Peggy’s Cove were on the lookout for the tiny creatures and plants that live on or near those famous rocks: the kelp, the barnacles, Irish moss, periwinkles and algae.

Once at the edge of the sea—with the iconic lighthouse barely visible across the bay in the fog—Dr. Corkett instructed them to collect samples from tidal pools. Back in the lab, they would take a look at their samples under the microscope.

“Something green and blobby works for me!” said Kyle Mustard, a student majoring in History and Environment, Sustainability and Society (ESS), as he peered into a rust-colored crevice. The course, which counts as a half-credit, attracts students in a wide variety of disciplines.

“For me, it’s a good way to see Nova Scotia and to learn about it from a scientific perspective,” said Alberta native Carolyn Inglis, a student in Environmental Science and International Development Studies (IDS). She explained she was attracted to Dalhousie for its reputation as a top science school. And it’s lived up to that reputation: “I love it, absolutely, it’s the best,” she enthused.

“Peggy’s Cove is a standard example of a rocky shore in the Atlantic region,” explains Dr. Corkett, an ecologist and Dal professor who teaches the Marine Life course. “At Peggy’s Cove, we can see ‘zonation,’ a general principal in ecology where we see the patterns of algae in zones.” During the course, students also visit other seashore environments, including a sandy beach and a salt marsh.