PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Based in Pascagoula, the NOAA ship Oregon II is celebrating 50 years of service with the federal agency.
Instead of receiving gifts, the ship and crew gave them out instead. They came in the form of tours for hundreds of Jackson County students.
The sixth graders were amazed at the size of the ship, and what the research it's capable of doing while at sea. For the ship's staff and crew, it was a unique opportunity.
"Teaching is absolutely essential. It's inspiring the next generation of researchers and scientists to carry on the great work that's been done over the last 50 years on the Oregon II," said Capt. Todd Bridgeman, director of marine operations.
Several goals of tour were reached for Capt. David Nelson.
"We want to show them the ship, and show them the biology, and show them the science that we do and just lead them down a good path," Nelson explained.
That path includes learning about the world that is more than 70 percent water.
"We learned a lot of things about the different organisms in the water, and we learned about how life is on the ship," said student Henry Ros.
For some of the students, the tour opened their eyes to a possible future that involves science and research.
"Well, I know for sure I'm definitely going to be a scientist. But I am interested in this field, everything that goes on underwater because we don't live there and it's just very interesting to me," Jasmine Webb said.
For the teachers who instruct in a modern day environment, it's important to get out of the classroom.
"When they do something hands-on, they remember it more. The more senses you use, you're going to have a better understanding of it," noted Jenny Goldner.