By Eliott Rodriguez

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Frost Science Museum is known for its stunning aquarium, but it’s also the center of important research work which helps South Florida students further careers in math, science and helps them become environmental stewards.

High school senior Abigail Martinez is one of those students who took part in a recent shoreline clean-up at Crandon Park.

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While there, she asked fellow volunteers what else can be done aside from picking up the garbage that is scattered on the shore.

“You all live here; do you have any ideas?” Martinez asked.

Shoreline clean-up at Crandon Park. (Frost Science Museum(

She’s among a handful of high school students in the Frost Science Museum’s Upward Bound Math and Science program. The four-year course accepts students from title one schools to advance college enrollment and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.)

Frost partners with the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science for this unique experience.

“They work with the grad students in research labs, help them with their experiments, collect data, and design and carry out their own research too,” said Mauricia Vasquez, project director at Frost.

As part of the program, Abigail works on an initiative called Small Changes Big Impact, showing how even little things can reduce carbon footprint. With support from the Smithsonian, they host cleanups and spread the word through social media platforms like Instagram.

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“What we are trying to do is send a message to people that there are things that are happening around the world; sea-level rise, climate change, animal cruelty [to address] so that we can make a difference,”  Martinez explained.

Upward Bound’s small class size creates a close-knit group of kids who gain a range of competencies and hands-on learning.

Everything from time management, verbal and oral communication, all skills to be successful on a day-to-day basis in the workforce.

“My favorite thing had to be marine biology,” Martinez shared “Learning about corals that I didn’t even think were relevant, and learning about mangroves and sea-level rise, and how it’s all affecting us,” Martinez said.

Her mentors witnessed her grow from a shy “B and C” student to an environmental steward who has accepted to the coveted Miami Dade Honors College this fall.

“She’s a bundle of joy. It’s been very cool to watch her rein in the energy over the years and hone it into something she really cares about, which is the environment,” Vazquez beamed.

“It has taught me to be more mindful and aware. I really want people to realize that what we are doing isn’t ok,” Martinez said.

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For more information on these programs, click here.

Eliott Rodriguez