NOAA Teacher at Sea
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
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.
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!
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.
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