Kate DeLussey: Introduction, June 6, 2012

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kate DeLussey
Onboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
July 3 – 18, 2012

Mission:  Deep Sea Coral Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Atlantic Ocean, Leaving from  Newport, RI
Date: June 6, 2012

Current Location: Philadelphia, PA; Latitude:40.0409483; Longitude:-75.1287162

Greetings and Welcome to My NOAA Blog!

I am Kathleen (Kate) DeLussey from the J. R. Lowell School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in a city of 1.5 million, I have spent most of my life in the same five-mile radius.  The school where I teach is right down the street from the elementary school I went to when I was a child.  I am a true city kid.  You may have taken a yellow bus to school, but I rode the “El” train.  Water came out of the “tap” and early fish experiences included both rectangular “sticks” and orange pets, but we will not talk about either of those things here.

Visit Philadelphia! The city needs the oceans too!

So, you may question why a woman like me, a teacher with four children who experienced her first plane flight last year, would be excited about participating in scientific research aboard a NOAA vessel as a Teacher at Sea.  Especially when I am not exactly sure about what I am going to be doing, (Hint:  The more I learn about the Oceans and Atmosphere, the more information I have to share with our students at Lowell School.)

You may also be wondering why a Reading Specialist in a K-4 school would be so interested in what is happening in Earth’s Oceans and Atmosphere, especially when I come from such a large city.  (Hint:  We all need to learn about and care for our Earth’s Oceans.)

Finally, you may be wondering how a teacher’s experience at sea will encourage our students, and their families to connect with and learn more about the Earth’s Oceans and Atmosphere.  (Hint:  When I show you how wonderful and important our Oceans are to the life of all things on Earth, you will just have to get involved!)

If you are thinking and asking questions like these as you read, GREAT!  When students and teachers just have to know, they are behaving like scientists, and like writers.

I just had to know more about NOAA’s work.  I have read many things, seen TV programs, and visited Web sites to teach me about oceans, but I still have many questions.

How do the scientists at NOAA understand and forecast the weather?

How do they understand fish?

What types of jobs do the people at NOAA have?

How can my students prepare for careers at NOAA?

Where can my students find the answers to their own questions?

How can I find out more?

I was researching the answers to these questions on the NOAA website when I saw the chance for teachers to go to sea.  I applied, and I was chosen!  To use the words of our principal Mrs. Runner, “WHOOOO WHOOOO!”  I am so excited to be participating as a Teacher at Sea.

After I found out I was going to be a NOAA Teacher at Sea, I wanted to prepare my students for ocean learning and did what all good teachers do at the beginning of a lesson.  I asked my third grade friends in Room 207 some questions.  “What do you know about the Oceans?  Tell me everything you know!”  Of course, the students wrote the “lists” of things they “knew” about the oceans and they really shared some of their thinking as they wrote.

What the students in Room 207 report they know about the oceans:

Emily, Isaiah, and Lusine had the longest lists, and while all of the students reported they  “knew” something about oceans, most of the answers on the student lists looked like this:

  • The oceans cover most of the Earth’s surface
  • The oceans have lots of living things like fish, crabs, and sharks
  • The oceans are important to the Earth
  • You can swim in the ocean

You can see that for our students to become ocean experts, they really needed more details to add to their list of “what they know.”

(Some of the ideas the students put on the list were not true, and I do not want to put those ideas on this list, because I want to include only true information in my Blog.)  I do not want to confuse anyone about a topic as important as Earth’s Oceans.

This list only had Big Ideas about the oceans and even with my thinking, we could not add many detailsYou can see we all have a lot to learn about our oceans.

So, I am be bringing the future “Ocean Literacy” of our 1,000 students with me as I work with NOAA during my Teacher at Sea adventure.  (Hi kids!)

Our big questions for this mission will be:

  1. What are Deep Sea Coral Reefs?
  2. How do scientists study deep sea coral reefs?
  3. What do scientists do with the information they gather during their research?

I am participating on this trip because I want to find answers to our questions.  I also want to be sure everyone understands NOAA’s work so we all can participate as scientists and writers to help protect our Earth’s Oceans and Atmosphere.

Join me–not only a teacher–but also a citizen of the Earth planet as I work as a guest scientist aboard the Henry B. Bigelow, a NOAA research vessel.

Continue to ask questions as you read my blogs.  We may not find the answers to all of our Big Questions, but we will be better prepared to find our answers as we gain knowledge and as we add details to our scientific knowledge and to our writing.

Hopefully, at the end of my journey, you may be wondering if you could to this “At Sea” research too!



65 Replies to “Kate DeLussey: Introduction, June 6, 2012”

  1. Enjoy your learning experience as I will think of you while enjoying a smaller less salty body of water!

    1. Just be sure to look for living things in “whatever” body of water you are visiting. You never know what is just below the surface or 1200 meters down. You may be teaching us all about an important discovery.:)

    1. Well, the Tow Cam gets to have the biggest adventure being underneath the surface and all, but the opportunity to see and collect data on what “he/she” is doing is adventure enough for me. Thanks for your support.

  2. Sounds like a brave adventure for you, Kate! The ship’s interior looks cool. I’ll tune in during your voyage.

    1. Brave… Not so much, but it looks as if I’m working alongside some of the best brains in Coral Reef research. It is easy to want to be a part of that! I’m hoping to bring some of those brains, or at least some of their knowledge in my brain, back to school with me in September. If you work on the Coral Mural, Take a picture and send it to me, I’ll see if I can include it in my blog. Enjoy your vacation.

      ( The ship’s interior does look cool. I get to meet “Henry”-Henry B. Bigelow today.)

  3. Kate- Make sure you pack the COMFORTABLE shoes!! (Little known fact that you might want to study as you go …most sealife have issues with high fashion)! Enjoy!!!

    1. Now Cindy, I think you should quote your source. Let’s be real, most sealife are fashion forward as they have a deep sense of style. Comfortable shoes, or out of your comfort zone, it doesn’t matter to them so long as you are finding ways to spread the news about protecting and taking care of our oceans.

    1. Thanks, it is nice to have an opportunity to experience the salt air in your face without wearing a helmet. Wearing the ear patch, Tsi wristbands, and Comfortable shoes as Cindy suggests will not mute the adventure. Happy trails to you also.

    1. Hey Matt,
      I will prefer if the ship part of the experience is more like the “tram car.” Flat ground…nice steady path…everybody moving out of our way… “Watch the Henry B. Bigelow please.”
      However, I’m not so sure about all the people getting on and off. I plan on staying “on.”

  4. Good luck Kate! I can’t wait to read all about your adventure! Remember green apple skins! 🙂

    1. Read my gratitude for your good wishes! THANK YOU! Jen. Did you write the beginning of a song or something…. Green apple skins, word, word, tune???

      Oh, wait a home remedy for that which will not be spoken. (Or experienced. )

      I’m going with the tried and true methods, and hoping some of the other bloggers were only going with the apple skins. Also, I know it is bad luck for fisherman to take fruit especially bananas on the boat,( but who knows maybe apple skins also.) I only want to bring good karma to the ship. See my new adventures soon, Kate

  5. I am so proud of you for participating in this program. Be safe; have fun and learn lots to share with all of us at home!

    1. Program, what program? This is my new career! This adventure will be a piece of cake and as safe as closing some bleachers. No worries! I’m excited to share my learning with you all, and I am thinking of so many new projects for Lowell as an outgrowth of this adventure. A teacher went to sea, sea, sea. to see what she could see, see, see. We don’t just look, we do something!!!



    1. Send any advice you think I need. Since you just returned from an adventure, you are the pro! Be well, and stay cool until I return. 🙂

  7. And your off!! I am excited to follow your adventures and learning through your blog. Be safe and have fun!

    1. …And I’m off,
      And I’m ON!

      Still at the pier. However, I AM off on a genuine learning experience already. Forget public schools, forget charter schools, forget private schools. Find someone who is brilliant in their field and become an indentured servant to them. I would follow these scientists anywhere just to have a glimpse of their knowledge. Are you sure you don’t want to go back to school to be a marine biologist or something? I’m too old.

    1. Thanks Susanne,
      Maybe next year you’ll participate in the program. We can develop an ocean focused curriculum. ( And adapt it at the same time!)

  8. Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. So…we want you to have gentle winds and smooth seas. Have a great trip. Love Dad and Mom

    1. Happy 4th.
      No sailing does not make skillful sailors either. We are still in port with technical difficulties. I am feeling great and sleeping well. Don’t use the binoculars to look for me off shore just yet. It will probably be a few days.


    1. Thanks Kath,
      I do have my land legs. Technical difficulties have pushed the sailing date out by at least four days. I am hoping sea legs have developed during the wait time. See you soon.

  9. Hi Kate it’s Nate we are down the shore with Mom and Dad. Did you tell them about your “fishing skills”?

    1. No Nate, I haven’t talked about my “FISHING SKILLS.” Some skills need to be fully refined before they are shared with others. Thanks for you concern:)

  10. Well that explains why I went to map your journey and the boat was still parked! I’m sure there is plenty to discover while you are in port. Even though I’m sure you are excited to see what’s underneath the surface, I know you are enjoying every minute! Day 2…..no seasickness = WIN!

  11. Greetings Kate!
    I am already thinking about how I will incorporate your findings into my science class this year! Looking forward to learning all about what is going on underneath the ocean surface! To quote your parents, I am also wishing you, “gentle winds and smooth seas!”
    ~ Peace, love and knowledge ~

    1. Ahoy Matey,
      Well, the biggest lesson so far is how the scientists, crew, and officers worked together to solve the problem of the broken winch. This is the same lesson we work on all year…every year. Perhaps if we found some real life problems for the students to solve we could get better buy in for the hard learning work. Let’s think about it together.

  12. Dear Kate,

    I hope you are well before you leave port and head to sea! Please tell us what your working day is like. I’m looking forward to reading about your work at sea.

    – Brian

    1. Hey Brian,
      Thanks, I am fine. It is the ship and equipment that were having the problems. I’ll let you know about my working day when I begin to work. That will probably be tomorrow on the graveyard shift 12am to 12pm. Today I did get to help out one of the NOAA Corps members by finding updates for navigational charts. It was interesting.

      1. Hi Kate,
        Was wondering where you found the updates for the navigational charts. Are they on the internet like everything else? If so, does everyone have access to the site? Do you know yet what you’ll be doing during the graveyard shift? Twelve hours is a long time. How many other teachers are on the ship with you? Where are they from? What’s their area of expertise? Hopefully, you set sail tomorrow… and take lots of photos. Safe travels!

      2. Hi Madelaine,
        Thanks for checking in. WOW!
        1. The navigational chart updates were on a site, and I just typed in the official “chart” number to look for them.
        2. I am about to finish my second shift. Today I plotted longitude and latitude on a chart to mark the position of the TowCam in deep water. Data was also sent by the TowCam but our hard copies were just a back up.
        3. Twelve hours is a long time, but when the TowCam came back on deck today, some starfish decided to hitch a ride to the top. Other the slurp sampling revealed tiny creatures that live in the water column. Watching the scientists carefully process the animals was VERY interesting and exciting. I am the only reading specialist grade school teacher on board. ( No other regular teachers) Of course the scientists are or have been teachers. They are teaching me things all the time.

        Have fun on your vacation.

  13. Kate,
    I bet Joe could fix the problem. I hope all is well and you set sail soon. I’ll be watching your post to follow your excursion. The only thing you’re missing in Philly is the heat 🙂

  14. Hi Kate!
    So you are setting sail from New England….the ocean is especially beautiful there along that part of the East Coast….something about that deep blue that encourages a sense of calm and peace. Anyway, Hopefully, you have set sail by now. Please bring back some cool artifacts for me (I meant the kids….lol) to check out when you return. I’ll check back in a few days to hear about the latest in your adventure. Have fun!

    1. Hi Daninia,
      Calm, Deep, Soothing. (I am counting on it staying that way.) You should have seen the orange starfish that came up on the TOWCAM today. While orange is the new yellow this season, I’m hoping people learn from my experience and become inspired to take care of ocean life in EVERY season. I bet our students would love learning about the oceans and creatures underneath the sea.

      Thanks for checking in and enjoy your summer:)

  15. Kath,
    I know the journey started long ago but I’m glad to hear you set sail. What a long way from Hunting Park pool. I am watching eagerly and in awe as you show us through your words and actions how to live as Good Citizens of Earth.

    Be safe. Be well. Be curious. Be inspired.

    Love, ann

    1. Hi,
      Thanks for checking in. Right now we are a long way from everything. Ocean and sky. What a great way to live. I am watching the scientists as they gather view and process the images from the TowCam. We can’t be really good Earth citizens until we understand the gift of the planet. So much to experience and learn. I try to stay inspired ( and awake). The gentle motions of the ship just want to rock me to sleep. Could be the Dramamine also.
      I’ll update the blog soon.


  16. What was that, “a broken winch“? I am confident you have the skills to repair one of those!

    1. Why yes Faythe it was a broken Winch. The engineers, crew, and scientists worked together to get things moving. We are on a roll now.

  17. As the temps here reach 101 today, I hope you have some cool sea breezes blowing your way. love nate

    1. Hi,
      I’m learning science, eating good food, and sleeping like a baby. Last night there was this amazing electrical storm over the ocean. AWESOME!
      See you soon.

  18. Hi Kate, being everybody else has sent you messages I decide to check in also. I have read all of your blogs. Just letting you know that I miss you. It sounds like you are having the experience of a lifetime and are handling the seas ok. I know you are focusing under the water but how are the stars. You have always been a sky person, maybe this will change your focus. Bye for now, I will see you in Newport and continue to view this page.

    1. Hi, and thanks for writing. I know you have been thinking about me and watching the cruise. I miss you too! The only stars I have seen are “brittle stars” and some crazy orange starfish that came up with the TowCam from deep sea. I’ll post pictures of them on the next blog. The sky has not been clear to watch the other stars. I am hoping to get a good view of the night sky before the mission ends. I’m tired but well. See you in Newport on the 18th! I’ll have lots of tales to tell.

  19. Hi Kate,
    I am happy to hear that you are out of port and underway. It sounds amazing! How many total people are on the ship? What do you do when you are not on your twelve hour shift? Are you in the top bunk or the one underneath?

    Take care and know how proud we all are of you. Love, Terry

    1. Greetings Ter,
      out of port and underway. The scientists got busy right away. I don’t know how many people on the ship. I think 11 scientists. I am still working on getting used to a 12 hour shift. When I’m done, I sleep, eat, read, sleep on the bottom bunk! … Oh yes, I said sleep already. Thanks for your support and love!

  20. Hi Aunt Katie,
    Why do they call it a towcam? Did you get pictures of the starfish? We’re watching an electrical storm over the ocean now! That and reading your adventures is like we’re with you!

    1. Sean,
      Nice to hear from you! The TowCam is called the TowCam because after the winch lowers it to about 3 meters above the ocean floor, the ship tugs and tows it taking pictures of the creatures on the bottom. 1890 meters is the deepest I think I have seen. That is about 6,200 feet beneath the ocean. Not only have we taken pictures, a fancy orange starfish was on the TowCam when it came up yesterday. I’ll post the pictures soon.


  21. How exciting, Kate! Enjoy & learn lots- can’t wait to hear all about your adventures in the fall back @ Lowell (hopefully!). Take care 🙂

  22. Hi Kate! Thanks for answering my many questions. Sounds so interesting and just the adventure for a curious mind. Was happy to see the picture of the TowCam on your blog; sounds like the center of attention on the ship… and can’t wait to see the picture of the orange starfish! Happy to hear all is well and that you’re enjoying the experience. xoxo

  23. Nice picture on the blog you posted yesterday, Kate. Looks like sea life agrees with you. 🙂

    1. Sea life does agree with me. I am just inspired by the beauty of the ocean, and the importance of the research. Wait until you see the other things we have done.

      Thanks for your comments.

  24. WOW! Kate your journey seems so interesting! You looks so happy and at peace on the ship! I am enjoying your blogs, but can’t wait to hear you tell the stories in person! Enjoy the rest of your time on the HB Bigelow, be safe, learn, and read something! 🙂

  25. Hi Kate I was just reading your blog and checking out the pictures. I loved your comment to your students about being frustrated trying to learn new things. At that depth are the fish self illuminating? In other words do they make a chemical reaction like a lighting bug?

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