Marine Chemistry mixes it up

Rachael So

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The Marine Chem class of 2016 celebrates after the symposium. Photo courtesy of Dave DeGroot

The Marine Chem class of 2016 celebrates after the symposium. Photo courtesy of Dave DeGroot

Marine Chemistry is the study of the chemical makeup of oceans, but, at Bellarmine, it holds a greater meaning.

Upon hearing the words “Marine Chemistry,” some Bellarmine students think of smart kids unnecessarily doing hard work. Others wish they could just go to Hawaii, and still a few students remember their source of stress. But the students who really know what Marine Chemistry is about know that it means family in the midst of hard work.

Led by teacher Dave DeGroot, Marine Chemistry is a 4-year science research program that Bellarmine offers to certain incoming freshmen. Although many people decide not to join once they realize they must complete a student essay to apply, those who do join will invest a significant amount of time and effort into the program.

Every student in the program has the final goal to work on and complete a scientific research project that he or she will present at the Senior Symposium and submit into science competitions. Senior Sean Ylescupidez explained the process. “Freshman year is when they kind of acclimate you to lab life. You go to Titlow and you take samples… At the end of that, you write a research paper on Titlow. You can have the option of becoming a diver your sophomore year and you do some stats.”

He went on to describe the last two years of work for the program. “Junior year, that’s when you begin your project. You figure out who your partner is, you decide what your project is going to be, and you look for mentors… then you actually do your project. Every project we do is either original or some kind of continuation. It’s always something that no one has ever done before.”

The project that the students must complete is a long and arduous process, but students get through and gain a lot out of it. Senior Tara Hale said, “When everyone is working on their own project and we’re all suffering, it’s just like, okay, we can do this.”

Adding to that, senior Paul Gicewicz said, “it really exposes you to a high level of science that most people would not get exposed to.”

This program, while highly educational, is truly about the people. Ylescupidez said, “You need to put your all into the relationships just as much as you put into the project itself.” To younger students in the program, Hale said, “Be open to [your classmates], because they’re really cool!”

Marine Chemistry students go through much together. Gicewicz stated, “It’s all the little moments. Like those moments: 7 a.m. in the lab freshman year, and then you got to learn how to dive at Sunnyside Beach. You have suffering through your projects. All the little things, you bond with each other.”

The students expressed their affection of the program. Ylescupidez stated, “Almost all of my best friends came from Marine Chem.” Hale said, “It’s the best thing I did at Bellarmine.”

The Marine Chemistry program provides a vital energy to the community. It is a place where one can see students learning and enjoying science. More than that, however, the program facilitates relationships students will continue for a lifetime.

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Marine Chemistry mixes it up