Aquatic School Illuminates Kids' Senses

Bruce Neill, a marine biologist, has been leading daily adventures through the waters and across the beaches of Florida's Sanibel Island for almost a year.

The Early Show visited with Bruce and his wife, Evelyn, to learn more about the Sanibel Sea School (www.sanibelseaschool.org), a school started by the couple to teach kids about marine life on Sanibel Island.

"What we wanted to do was create a place where young kids could learn good information," Bruce said.

Bruce has completely invested himself in the school — he is both a teacher and a bus driver. He noted that one of his favorite parts of his school is that the curriculum is always changing.

"Everyday there is something new. Every time there is this item you didn't expect . . . and we end up with a lot of discovery-led education," Bruce said.

Interacting with the outdoors is a daily occurance for the Sanibel students. On a given day, students may find a mangrove crab or an unusual snail. Evelyn notes that she loves the interactivity that the school provides.

"The ability to take kids out and be hands-on is magic," Evelyn said.

The Sanibel Sea School, a non-profit organization, doesn't just illuminate the mind. It engages all of the senses. Students will taste leaves in a mangrove forest one day and test their ears by listening to cars pass a bridge overhead on another day.

Evelyn also pointed out that the school gets young kids out of their houses and into the outdoors, which she believes is important. "We are sort of reintroducing kids to playing outside because if they love it, they will learn more about it," she said.

Although students learn a great deal about the environment, Bruce and Evelyn still emphasize the importance of having fun. They hope that the experiences the students have will remain with them long after they leave the school.

Said Evelyn: "I want them to go away touched and visceral and having the best feeling they had in their life."

  • Daniel Aven

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