The Riverview High School Aquascience Program is a robust program with dedicated staff and over 400 students learning and engaging in hands on science research and exploration. Our Stars to Starfish Interns, Marine Science Club, and collaborations with the community define our robust learning ecosystem.
“We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.”— Brene Brown
Stars to Starfish Internship
The Stars to Starfish program enlivens the science curriculum, bringing to the classroom hands-on experiential learning. Students build personal knowledge and appreciation for the significance and importance of maintaining a healthy environment while maintaining delicate ecosystems in their own classrooms and school state-of-the-art AquaDome.
Their passion translates to inspiration as 5000 of Sarasota County’s elementary students journey through the AquaDome each year. Riverview High School’s science education program is unparalleled in its diversity of subjects to explore and the quality and rigor of the educational experience.
Marine Science Club
The Marine Club is an after school club that is dedicated to protecting, raising awareness, and having fun with the ocean and marine life. Membership is open to any Riverview High School student. Members of the club pay $10/ school year in dues and an additional $10 for a club shirt. The club meets weekly to:
- organize on campus outreach and events,
- plan attendance at community events that encourage responsible stewardship of our local Sarasota community
- enjoy guest talks from local scientists,
- trips to local research and management agencies and
- a fun, annual trip to Sea World to explore their education and research program!
Staff Backgrounds and Bios
Assistant Principal, Riverview High SchoolMy name is Glenn Wachter. I am one of the assistant principals here at Riverview High School, and this year marks my 35th in the field of education. While I have held many different positions, my all-time favorite was serving as the Staff Naturalist with the Monroe County Conservation District in Northeastern PA. In this role I got to spend every day out in nature with groups of students and adults. This work taught me the importance of understanding the natural world and our role as humans in protecting it. Here in Florida we have a beautiful Marine ecosystem. The Marine ecosystem is essential to life in Florida as we know it. It is imperative that everyone, residents and visitors, old and young, develops a personal relationship with and learns the value of this ecosystem. The Stars to Starfish program at Riverview High School is the perfect way to foster the growth of this personal relationship. I feel privileged to have been here when the program was “born” and I am pleased to see what it has become. I am honored to support the teachers and students who make this program work as it is through their work that Florida and the World as a whole will be a better place.
Katrin Rudge, Executive Director of Aquascience Programs
Katrin Rudge received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland in 1988 where she took courses taught by Dr. Eugenie Clark, founder of Mote Marine Laboratory. This is where she developed her fascination and interest in sharks. She continued her graduate work and earned a Master’s of Science in 1992, through University of Maryland’s Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences Program (MEES). Her professional experiences include a research assistantship with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), establishing her own business Chesapeake Workshops Unlimited, where Katrin coordinating numerous technical & scientific workshops and conferences for the Chesapeake Bay Program before she moved to Sarasota in 2001.Currently, Katrin is the Director and founder of Riverview’s Aquascience Program, as well as co-director of the Stars to Starfish Program at Riverview High School in Sarasota, FL. She teaches Marine 1 Honors and the IB Career Pathway Marine Science. Katrin has established valuable partnerships with Mote Marine Laboratory, New College, the University of Florida and Sarasota Bay Watch and Sarasota County Government to strengthen the research components of this Program. The Stars to Starfish program evolved as a way to offer outreach and hands-on field trip experiences to elementary and middle school students from around the county who visit Riverview’s Planetarium and are then escorted by her students to the Aquadome where they learn about and view many different marine organisms and develop and appreciation for environmental stewardship and keeping our waterways healthy and pristine for these creatures. Katrin is always searching for that next interesting project for her students.
Riverview Teacher of the Year, 2014
Sarasota County High School Teacher of the Year, 2014
Sarasota County Teacher of the Year, 2014
Florida TOY Finalist 2014
Frank Gangi, Aquaculture Facilities Manager
Frank earned an AA from State College of Florida and was a 1984 graduate of Riverview High School. He started working at Mote Marine Lab from 1986-1989, first working in the Aquarium and then moved over to the Laboratory involved with collections, maintaining the shark tank and getting to know some really good people while gaining hands on knowledge. Frank also took part as a research diver gathering data in the Bahamas on the Sand Tilefish, “Reproductive behavior and social organization in the sand tilefish, Malacanthus plumeri” under the direction of Dr. Eugenie Clark, Joan S. Rabin and Susan Holderman.
Frank started working at Marinco Bioassay Laboratory, Sarasota in 1992 – 2007, initially overseeing all facets of a growing toxicity lab. Once the lab relocated and expanded he took over as lead of the Aquaculture Department, designing all the systems needed to breed and maintain the indicator organisms used in WET (Whole Effluent Toxicity) testing.
In 2006, Frank partnered up and started a company called EcoAquatics also located in Sarasota, devoted to culturing and supplying of a species of mysid, Americamysis bahia, used extensively in research and as a live feed. This facility is still up and running and is currently in a stage of expansion after recently relocating.
In 2017, Frank went full circle and returned to Riverview High School accepting a job as Aquascience Facilities Manager overseeing the aquaculture program, establishing a clownfish breeding program used to insert funds back into the program, updating the Aquadome and basically trying to do my part in creating one of the top high school aquaculture programs in the nation.
Sharon Potter Karasick, Resident Ninja
Sharon (aka Sheri) Potter Karasick, BS, is a social intrapreneur with a strong commitment to developing more effective strategies to connect people to science. Among other things, she has been the director of community and stakeholder engagement for the Association for Women in Science, the leading advocate for women in STEM. She has also been a project director for SciStarter implementing a collaborative program to bring citizen science to classrooms and Girl Scout troops around the world, hand-in-hand with NASA’s GLOBE initiative and National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools program.Sheri’s personal mission is to build a scientific citizenry of people who understand how science works, why science matters, and what scientists do – and to help them connect that knowledge with their own lifelong journey as a citizen who benefits from, participates in, and uses science.Sheri worked at the American Institute of Biological Sciences for over ten years in multiple capacities, including as director of membership and public programs. She helped launch the Leadership in Biology initiative, Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science, ActionBioscience.org and Year of Science 2009. Sheri earned an Executive Certificate in Social Impact Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania and has a bachelor’s degree in biology.
Three words that describe Sheri:
I’m with you.
The dots Sheri connects:
Sheri connects cool people to cool people to spread ideas and opportunities that promote people using and celebrating science.
Connect with Mrs. K on Linked In.
Dr. Patricia Altomare, Marine Chemistry Gurette
Dr. Patricia Altomare, BS, MS, EdS, EdD, is a life-long learner who is committed to create the next generation of people committed to scientific inquiry. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies in 1992 and began teaching at Hammocks Middle School in the field of Science. She continued her education to receive a Masters Degree in Science Education and then to achieve an Education Specialist and Doctorate in Educational Leadership.
Dr. Altomare has been committed to the IB program at Riverview high school for the past 8 years where she is an Extended Essay advisor, and teaches Pre-IB Chemistry as well as Honors Marine Science. She also is the sponsor for the Science National Honors Society and the Award winning Chemistry Club. She is actively involved with students who are maintaining and expanding the nature trail at RHS. Dr. Altomare is committed to helping students find their passion for science by mentoring students in research based inquiry. Her hobbies include environmental stewardship, scuba diving and aviation.