Fallston student in California on science project

Learning: Ninth-grader Ranjit Korah is one of 28 young people involved in an international, televised expedition to the Channel Islands.

January 26, 2003|By Jennifer Blenner | Jennifer Blenner,SUN STAFF

On an isolated island off the coast of California, Ranjit Korah is learning hands-on about marine biology and ecosystems.

Korah, of Bel Air, a ninth-grader at Fallston High School, was selected from thousands of students to participate in the international science expedition to California's Channel Islands through Saturday.

The Jason Foundation, a multidisciplinary educational organization, controls the Jason Project. Korah is one of 28 students on the "Jason XIV: From Shore to Sea" expedition, working one-on-one with researchers, teachers and students from around the world, said project coordinator Daniel Beaupre.

When Korah learned of the Jason Project, a yearlong science curriculum, "I got interested in it and wanted to pursue it and ended up here," he said.

After three years in the Jason Program in school, he applied for the expedition.

"I wanted to expand my knowledge of marine biology and the variety of ecosystems," he said. "It is a great opportunity to work with researchers and biologists."

He was nominated by the National Geographic Society in Washington, a sponsor of the Jason Project.

Candidates must show a passion for learning, strong leadership skills, ability to work as a team player and enthusiasm for long hours of activity.

"Most of all they have to show a natural curiosity and desire to explore the natural world," Beaupre said, but a deciding factor is a comfort level on camera.

In preparation for the expedition, Korah had to read the Jason curriculum book, conduct experiments and chat online with members of the research team.

The Argonauts' adventures will be broadcast live on the National Geographic Channel. The program will air over 11 days, five broadcasts a day.

"Students are the stars of the production," Korah said.

During the broadcast, he said, students can ask the researchers questions and participate in experiments.

On the island, the students are involved with planning and maintaining the Web site.

"They have quite a few responsibilities," Korah said, and serve as a conduit between the viewers and the researchers.

"They are role models for other students," Beaupre said. "They are there to show other children what a discovery looks like."

Korah's current adventure is tracking deer mice.

As a student Argonaut, Korah said he works with National Aeronautics and Space Administration engineers using remote-sensing aerial vehicles and receiving data from satellites to aid in monitoring and managing flora and fauna on the island.

He said he enjoyed working with the scientists.

"They really know what they are doing," he said.

The only hard part, he said, is adapting to the climate, but he is not alone as he becomes accustomed to the island. The group includes researchers Allen Lunsford and Sallie Smith from NASA and Matt Grinnell, park rangers Bill Faulkner and Dave Kushner, six other students and two teachers.

"Everyone is very compatible, and it's nice to learn about other regions of the country," Korah said.

Korah, who hopes to become an engineer, said he learned more in two days than in a week of school. "I really feel I have a strong interest in science, and I wanted to integrate it in my life," he said.

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