By Mary Simms
ABOARD THE HIIALAKAI -- (KHNL) Figuring out what you want to be when you "grow up" is a tough decision for many kids. But, now one group of students is one step closer, thanks to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration program.
Hands on learning, at sea means an exciting adventure for a lucky group of 8th graders from King Intermediate School. Instructors from NOAA's Hawaiian Islands, National Marine Sanctuary took more than 30 kids aboard the Hiialakai for a trip they won't soon forget.
On the first day of school, 8th grader Andi Avvoia knew what she wanted to do when she grows up.
"When I grow up I want to be a marine biologist," said Avvoia.
"On the first day some of them actually wrote -- 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' A marine biologist. So, now they get to see if they really want to. Hopefully, their interest is really peaked," said 8th grade science teacher Tina Chan.
Her interest is peaked, but Andi admits marine science is a bit harder than she imagined.
"Because there's so much more than just, oh there's fish, there's whales, that's it. Like there were all of these different kind of plankton and everything so I'm really excited to learn more about it."
A close up look at marine sciences on a real research vessel is not an opportunity that's easy to come by. These students are all part of their school's Marine Science Club, or National Junior Honor Society.
"I never got to do this sort of thing as a kid, so getting to actually come out on a NOAA research ship, get an idea of what jobs are out there, what scientists are doing," said Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator Emily Carlson.
Students get a chance to study plankton, and water quality, conduct live rock studies, check out the bridge, and even get suited up for a fire.
The outreach coordinators hope the trip will inspire kids, and get them interested in marine science.
"I'm really interested in fish because they're cool," said 8th grader Jason Allenby.
"It helps us learn more about all the animals and what affects them and how they live," added 8th grader Shaunty Lamho.