Allan Phipps: Teacher from South Florida to Test the Waters in Alaska! June 29, 2012

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Allan Phipps
Soon to be aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
July 23 – August 10, 2012

Mission:  Alaskan Fisheries Walleye Pollock Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise:  Bering Sea Shelf
Date:  June 29, 2012

Introductory Log

Greetings from Washington, D.C. and from South Florida!  My name is Allan Phipps and I am a teacher from South Plantation High School’s Everglades Restoration and Environmental Science Magnet Program in Plantation, Florida (part of the greater Fort Lauderdale metropolis area).  I teach Advanced Placement Environmental Science, a course entitled Solar & Alternative Energy Honors, and serve as a senior research advisor.

Allan Phipps at Capital Building in DC
Einstein Fellow Allan Phipps at the Capital Building in DC

This year, I have had the distinct pleasure to serve as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow here in Washington, D.C. at the National Science Foundation.  While at the NSF, I have worked with both the Noyce Scholarship Program and the Math Science Partnership, both of which focus on improving the quality and quantity of highly qualified new STEM teachers in high-needs school districts across the country.  It has been a wonderful experience working at the NSF and with pre-service teachers.  I have also worked with the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math & Science Teaching program that is operated through the NSF.  As a former PAEMST awardee, it was great to be able to work behind the scenes to reward outstanding teachers!  A highlight of my experience here in D.C. was when I spoke at the White House Environmental Education Summit!  I discovered the NOAA Teacher at Sea opportunity while here in Washington, D.C. working with the Einstein Fellows.

Solar Knight III racing at the Texas Motor Speedway

At South Plantation High, I am the sponsor of our Solar Knights Racing Team that has won 1st place in the nation twice in the past six years at the high school level Solar Car Challenge (see video below)!  We have been building and racing solar cars at the high school level for six years!  Two of the races we have competed in were cross-country, the latest of which went from Fort Worth, Texas to Boulder, Colorado over 7 days in July 2010.  Last year’s race was a track race at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Here I am with students helping deploy reef balls in south Florida.

I also sponsored our school’s Project ORB (Operation Reef Ball) and deployed thirty 500-1,500 lb concrete reef balls off the coast of

South Florida to encourage coral colonization and propagation to offset some of the damage done to our beautiful South Florida coral reefs.   Recently, I had the privilege of presenting a poster session about our Project ORB at the European Geophysical Union conference in Vienna, Austria!

One of my students, Carson Byers, takes the solar kayak out for a test drive.

One of my favorite senior projects was a solar-powered kayak, which would improve accessibility to the Florida Everglades as well as other coastal environments for persons with disabilities.  I really enjoyed this project as it blended my passion for alternative energy with my love for getting out on the water.  This project won the WOW Award at the Florida Solar Energy Center’s Energy Whiz Olympics!

Now, I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to sail aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska!  This will officially be the furthest north I have ever traveled!  As we experience climate change, particularly in areas near the poles where the effects of climate change are more dramatic, it is important to study these changes and how they affect economically important species such as the Alaskan or Walleye Pollock (Theragra chalcogramma).  Walleye Pollock is said to be the largest remaining supply of edible fish in the world, and is the fish used in high quality breaded and battered fish products, fish sticks, and surimi (also known as “imitation crabmeat”).  Many fast food restaurants commonly use Walleye Pollock in their fish sandwiches.  It is important that this fishery be monitored and maintained so that harvest remains sustainable.  I hope that I may enlighten my students about their impacts on the environment when they decide what they will eat so they may become more conscientious consumers.

What’s Next?

I am getting ready to head out to sea and am really looking forward to working with the scientists on board the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson!  While my blog will be geared towards my AP Environmental Science students, I hope that people of all ages will follow me along my journey as I learn about the science behind maintaining a sustainable fishery.  I also hope to inspire my own students, and others, about the career opportunities in STEM associated with NOAA.  Stay tuned!

One Reply to “Allan Phipps: Teacher from South Florida to Test the Waters in Alaska! June 29, 2012”

  1. Hi Allan! I’m currently on leg 2 of the Oscar Dyson pollock survey and you’re in for working with an amazing crew! Just wanted to share a few things I wish I’d known before getting here that you may or may not know:
    * bring high (wool) socks to wear with your awesome Xtra Tuff rain boots and shoes that are easy to slip on/off are best as you get in and out of your orange rain gear often 🙂
    * you do get sheets, a comforter, pillow, and a towel (I had brought my own towels unneccessarily)
    * the gym is great, so if you like to work out (which you will probably need to do with all the great food on board), bring workout clothes/shoes
    * you really don’t need a ton of clothes – a few tshirts, long sleeves, sweatshirts (I brought two, then bought two in Dutch Harbor), and jeans and you’ll be set – there’s laundry and detergent and such on board already
    * everyone on board is AWESOME, so hopefully you’ll have just as amazing an experience as I’ve had – I definitely don’t want to go home!!
    * the flight from Anchorage to Dutch is often delayed, cancelled, or sent back, but don’t worry – you’ll eventually get here and someone should be at the airport (it is TINY) waiting for you!
    * even if you’re not prone to getting seasick, I took dramamine the first few days and felt amazing and then was fine the rest of the cruise – although I heard meclazine or something is much better (doesn’t make you drowsy) – and our waters were very smooth – you are lucky and get to cross the international date line – I’m so jealous!!

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