FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 11, 2006
Contact: Anika Mitchell Perkins
MUW floating lab makes waves on Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway
COLUMBUS, -- Since its arrival at the Plymouth Bluff
Educational Center, the MUW Explorer has reintroduced more
than 200 middle and college students to the outdoors.
The MUW Explorer, a 36-feet long, 10 feet wide floating
pontoon boat, is making waves on the Tennessee-Tombigbee
Waterway, according to Mississippi University for Women
biology professor Dr. Marty Harvill, coordinator of the
Scientific and Historical Enrichment Project.
More than 130 students from Armstrong Middle School in
Starkville recently participated in laboratories at Plymouth
Bluff. Students from Caledonia, MUW and about 30 home
schooled students also have boarded the teaching vessel.
According to Harvill, being on a boat was a first for some
of the students.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” noted Harvill, who had
to calm some of their initial fears. “We have plenty of life
vests. Safety is not an issue.”
While on the water, students use Secchi disks, plankton
(organisms that live in the water) nets and other
technological equipment to gather various samples aboard the
floating laboratory. On the land, they are exposed to a
variety of hands-on activities to gain an understanding of
“It really makes biology and environmental science real,”
Harvill said. “It gets them out of the classroom and into
The floating laboratory was made possible through a $496,000
Congressionally-directed grant administered through the U.S.
Department of Education.
Harvill, who was familiar with Ohio State’s educational
facility located on Lake Eerie, has improved on the model
located at Plymouth Bluff.
“Our boat is bigger. It has the deck and microscopes right
there so when students take samples, they are super fresh.”
Free camps will be available to rising seventh and eighth
graders this summer. The dates are Monday, June 12 through
Friday, June 16 and Monday, June 19 through Friday, June 23.
Applications must be postmarked by Friday, April 28.
Admission is selective and each workshop will be limited to
20 students. Lunch and snacks are provided.
Workshops for middle school science teachers will be held
Monday, June 26 through Friday, June 30. Enrollment is
limited to 18 teachers.
For more information, contact Harvill at (662) 329-8561 or