Giving 40 high school students an opportunity to learn more about the ocean was the hook. Harvard Museum of Natural History’s “Marine Life” exhibit provided the rest.

“I love everything about the ocean,” said Bethleham Asefha, a Cambridge Rindge and Latin School senior who was among the students who recently visited the Harvard Museum of Natural History’s new exhibit in the Putnam Family Gallery. The students also toured some of Harvard’s laboratories, met with graduate students pursuing careers in marine biology, and heard from Harvard’s Peter Girguis, professor of organismic and evolutionary biology.

Girguis has long worked to extend opportunities for high school students to be engaged with marine biology. His lab offers invites several Rindge and Latin students who have taken Paul McGuinness’ marine biology course to be a part of the Marine Science Internship Program at Harvard. The internship program not only gives students lab experience, it gives them a chance to team up with professors like Girguis and Harvard graduate students and talk about the career paths available in marine science.

“We love having the students on campus. They’re inquisitive, smart and really passionate about what they’re studying,” said Girguis. “The deep sea is clearly a very fascinating part of our planet, but more than that, I hope students are inspired to explore their passions, to push the boundaries of their imagination, and to realize that they are all already explorers in their own right, and that spirit of exploration will help foster innovation.”

Insights for high school students

And explore is exactly what the students did, as they took in the labs and the exhibits open to them.

“Every time I visit the museums, there is always new information that I pick up,” said Joshua Brancazio, a senior at Rindge and Latin. “When we come to the museum, I get to see things up close and learn something that inspires my interest to learn more about it when I get home.”

A group of the students also examined zebrafish cells under microscopes in Alexander Schier’s lab. Schier is the Leo Erikson Life Sciences Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

McGuiness has been partnering with Harvard for nearly a decade to bring his students to campus to see another side of marine biology. He noted, “It’s an amazing opportunity for students to get experience doing real research in a real lab.”