Ellen O’Donnell: An Adventure Begins May 13, 2012

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Ellen O’Donnell
Onboard NOAA Ship Delaware II
May 13 – May 25, 2012

Mission: Northern Right Whale Survey
Geographical are of the cruise: Atlantic Ocean out of Woods Hole. MA
Date: May 10, 2012

Personal Log

Greetings from Deerfield, New Hampshire. My name is Ellen O’Donnell and I am currently in my twelfth year working as a middle school science teacher at Deerfield Community School (DCS) in Deerfield, NH. DCS is an outstanding K-8 school in a small rural town located in between the larger cities of Manchester and Concord, NH. My high regard for DCS does not stem solely from my experience as a teacher here, but also from having all four of my sons attend DCS from kindergarten to eighth grade. The creative and dedicated teachers here did a great job preparing them for high school and beyond.

Deerfield Community School
Deerfield Community School

I applied for the NOAA Teacher at Sea program because I think it is a wonderful opportunity to bring real scientific research into the classroom. I want students to become familiar with the various scientific careers available, as well as the importance of using good scientific research as the foundation for policy decisions. I found out about the program mainly from my sister, Laura Rodriguez, who participated in the Teacher at Sea program two years ago. She is also a middle school science teacher but in Connecticut, Hall Memorial School in Willington. We both only taught seventh grade science, but then two years ago both our schools asked us to teach 8th grade science as well. We like to tease each other about who did what first! You can imagine what the conversation entails when we both get together. I’m looking forward to her students following my trip as well as my own. Our students will be working together,  while I am at sea, on a variety of ocean topics. They will communicate with each other through a community wiki and Skypeing. I can’t wait to see their final products!

Me and my sisters; Jen, Ellen and Laura (left to right)
North Atlantic Right Whale
North Atlantic Right Whale (photo credit: Georgia Dept of Natural Resources)

So here I am on the brink of an exciting adventure. I will be joining the crew of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the Delaware II out of Woods Hole, MA. We will be conducting a North Atlantic Right Whale Survey. North Atlantic Right Whales are one of the most endangered whales in our oceans. Some estimates say there are only about 300 individuals left. During our survey we will also be gathering information on other whales that we see, such as minke, humpbacks and sei. Right now I don’t know very much about how to tell them apart. In fact, I don’t know that much about ocean ecology specifically. I can’t wait to jump in and learn more about the Atlantic Ocean which is right in our backyard. Keep in touch and you can learn with me.

As part of the 8th grade math classes, taught by Rod Dudley,  our 8th grade students created scaled drawings of the actual sizes of the whales that I hope to see on my trip. They started from small drawings  to get the correct shape of each whale and them blew them up to their actual size. These were then drawn outside of our school for all to enjoy.  We wanted the whole school to appreciate the size of the various whales that live in the Northern Atlantic Ocean. You don’t realize how big they are until you do something like this.

Actual size of a North Atlantic Right Whale
Actual size of a North Atlantic Right Whale
Our whole 8th grade class fits inside!

So soon I will be heading out on the NOAA Delaware II into the Atlantic Ocean and I will be finding out more about the various jobs my shipmates have, information about ocean ecology, and life onboard a ship. Stay tuned

Delaware II
Delaware II (photo credit NOAA)

10 Replies to “Ellen O’Donnell: An Adventure Begins May 13, 2012”

  1. I love your blog! especially the part about your fabulous sisters:) Seriously, the scaled drawing of the right whale with the whole 8th grade class is wonderful.

  2. Hi Ellen,
    I love your blog!!! The “whales to scale” are hanging outside Rod’s math class as well reminding us of your journey. I’ll be sharing your information with my students as well. I hope you have great weather!

  3. Thanks for starting this blog, Ellen. We will check it often and I’m sure the KinderKids will have many questions for you. Can’t wait to hear what happens next.

  4. that soounds awsome. The interesting part is that the right whale is going extinct. That correct. well this is interesting.

  5. Ellen this is going to be so cool to stay up to date with what you are doing each day and be part of the experience. Stay safe!

  6. Thank you for being so willing to seek such wonderful adventures and for sharing them with all of us. Amazing pictures of wonderful sea life.

  7. Ellen,
    Flash from the past—- happy to see how wonderful and exciting your life is!! Doing what you love and loving what you do.

    Ann Marie Ives

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: