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While many of their classmates are relaxing by the ocean, some Hollywood students spent the early part of their summer learning about it.

As part of South Broward High School's marine magnet program, students spent two weeks at the Ocean STEM Summer Camp for hands-on learning.

"It's a greater experience than just being in the classroom," said senior Brittany Sheflin. "It's more fun and we do learn a lot. Camp is a more interesting experience."

Sheflin discussed the experience as she helped program a computer chip for a remotely operated vehicle.

"You wouldn't get to do this in a classroom because of time restraints and the pressure of grades," she said.

The first week of Ocean STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) was spent at Nova Southeastern University's Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography in Dania Beach. There, students learned from professors about the climate, environments and life under the sea, and gained experience with marine technology.

Teams of students spent the second week building and programming ROVs for underwater use and research. They also took a boat trip to gain field experience studying sharks and gathering data. They were earlier able to test their equipment at the school's new aquatics facility, which opened in March.

"We want [the students] to get the wider picture of marine biology and marine technology," said South Broward teacher Debra Hixon. "They don't understand there's a whole other side with the technology."

Hixon said the camp provides a great learning experience.

"It's nice to be able to learn in a camp setting," she said. "Kids tend to be a little more creative without the pressure of grades. And here they'll be able to make mistakes and be on their own. They're going to try things they may not normally try."

The 20 students who attended the camp will receive volunteer credit, and once school starts, they will help train and teach their classmates.

"Hopefully, we're training leaders of tomorrow," Hixon said.

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