Out-of-Door’s STEM Program Partners With Mote Marine
A summer partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium gave scientists and ODA students new tools for research.
Beginning in June, Out-of-Door students and the nation’s top marine scientists spent countless hours gathered around the scanning electron microscope (SEM) in the microscopy lab at Sarasota’s Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. The partnership, facilitated by Hitachi’s INSPIRE initiative and promoted by ODA’s Director of STEM Programming Ms. Caitlyn Dixon, brought together The Out-of-Door Academy and Mote researchers for a unique opportunity to collaborate.
Over the summer months, Aengus Doody ’26, Luca Marino ’23, Alexandra Morgan ’22, and Johnny Robinson ’23 worked with researchers on a variety of marine-related projects utilizing the SEM. The Mote scientists and ODA students developed new methods of utilizing the SEM’s technology to scan the tiniest of samples.
Once such revelation was the discovery of several diatoms that have never before been imaged. The diatoms are an important factor in the study of red tide prevention–an important subject of study in the Gulf Coast region.
“I’m grateful I had this opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes at Mote,” said Aengus. “Working with the research scientist was amazing and I can’t wait for the chance to go back.”
A second group researching cancer treatments focused their time with the SEM on stingray biology. Images of stingray venom glands captured by Aengus and Dr. Carl Luer were included in the scientific publication “Bioactivity of Atlantic Stingray (Hypanus sabinus) Venom on Murine Fibrosarcoma Cell Line.”
“We are excited about this expanding partnership with Mote Aquarium, which will provide our students with a common thread in their STEM experience at ODA from Pre-K through the Upper School,” said Ms. Dixon. “We were proud to leverage our partnership with Hitachi INSPIRE and the scanning electron microscope to provide our students with a unique experience working as laboratory technicians in a world-renowned marine research facility, and look forward to facilitating future research projects with them.”