Sue Oltman: Mrs. Oltman Prepares to Set Sail!


NOAA Teacher at Sea
Sue Oltman
Aboard R/V Melville
May 22 – June 6, 2012

Hi everyone! I’m a 6th grade science teacher in Georgia getting ready for an exciting time of learning and exploration – in a hemisphere I’ve never visited! I hope you’ll visit and comment on this blog often.

Originally, I’m from New York, but I have been in Atlanta since attending college at Georgia Tech. Before I was a teacher, I was an engineer, but I’ve always wanted to be a scientist!

A self portrait when I was 6 years old!

For 5 years, I’ve been thinking about applying to the NOAA Teacher at Sea program and am so honored to have been selected.  The ocean has always been a fascinating place to me – the waves, the sand, the shells, the life, the vastness. I’m a scuba diver and love boating. Many vacations have brought me to the ocean, but this time, my visit is not for leisure but joining in important research.

The research is about predicting climate change by observing ocean and lower atmosphere interactions. There is a lot I have to learn about this topic, and I hope to share as much as possible in future blogs. One new fact I learned when reading up on NOAA’s climate program, is that there are ocean floor features which can increase upwelling, which in turn decreases surface temperatures. On our cruise, the Melville will sail near some tectonically active areas – and that means the ocean floor may be changing, even as I sail above it!

I’ve memotioned I will visit the southern hemisphere: the Melville  sets sail from the port of Valparaiso, Chile and my next post will likely be from there! I need to pack for potentially cold weather, even as my students get ready for summer vacation. Can you help me decide what hat to wear?

23 responses to “Sue Oltman: Mrs. Oltman Prepares to Set Sail!

  1. Hey there, Susan! Looking forward to seeing your future blogs and everything that’s happening on board the R/V Melville!!

  2. Sue, we are so proud and happy for you! Georgi says to watch out for red ants and be kind to the sea turtles…….xo, Nancy & Georgi

    • Georgi, We haven’t seen any sea turtles out here, but once we reach the Galapagos I expect to see some giant tortoises!

  3. You will be missed the last week of school. I heard that your ship was looking for the remains of the Bon Homme Richard. My dad is in the Navy and is teaching me about John Paul Jones. Have fun!

    • Hi Chris,
      I’m glad your dad is teaching you about Naval history. On this journey, our crew is not looking for the remains of anyone! I think the only “remains” we will encounter are the squid, barnacles, alga and other organisms that may become entangled in or affixed to the mooring when we recover it. We have about 3 more days before we reach the STRATUS mooring, so stay tuned!

  4. How is it out there?? We really miss you! Have fun and can’t wait to hear your stories and see your pics!
    Molly and Tina Bruning

    • HI Molly and Tina; I am learning so much and things are going well. The weather has been great and is getting warmer as we near the equator. The internet bandwidth is kind of limited, so I can’t upload too many pictures right now. I hope you are enjoying the ones posted so far! I’m so thankful to be part of this team!

  5. I hope you’re having an awesome time! It looks so cool…how is it being out on a boat full time? The ocean looks amazing from the photos and I hope it stays that way for the rest of the trip! I miss you!

    -Katie Hoovestol

    • Hi KT! Being on a ship is very different but I am really enjoying it. At night, it’s like sleeping with power tools being used all around you and the ship is rolling. I am used to it now. Last night we saw whales! Happy summer to you!

  6. Hi! Do you know what kind of whales they were? It really sounds cool out there in the Pacific ocean. I really missed you the last week of school.

    • Hi Claire! From the coloring and shape, I am pretty sure they were blue whales, an adult and calf. They tend to migrate towards the equator as winter approaches, so that makes sense where we saw them. It was hard to not be at school to say bye to everyone, but sailing with NOAA was an opportunity I could not turn down! Stay in touch over the summer!

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