NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
July 3 – 18, 2012
Mission: Deep-Sea Corals and Benthic Habitat: Ground truthing and exploration in deepwater canyons off the Northeast
Geographical area of cruise: Atlantic Ocean, Leaving from Newport, RI
Date: Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Latitude: 41.52778° N
Longitude: -71.31556° W
Weather Data from the Bridge:
Air Temperature: 28°C (83°F)
Wind Speed: 19 knots (22 mph), Beaufort scale: 5
Wind Direction: from N
Relative Humidity: 80%
Barometric Pressure: 1,014.90 mb
Surface Water Temperature: 28°C (83°F)
Happy Independence Day!
Science and Technology Log
Here aboard the Henry B. Bigelow we are sporting the red, white, and blue showing our pride for our Nation. The grill is hot and the hamburgers and hotdogs are ready for our lunch. Our July 4th is much more relaxing than we expected. We should be out gathering data. Images from TowCam verifying true bottom have not been observed. Creatures from the deep have not been collected, and important discoveries have not yet been made. We are still on Pier 2 at the Newport Naval Base. The information we have received from the Bigelow engineers is that the winches are not operational because a printed circuit board, which is involved with the computerized control of the hydraulic system that powers the winches has burnt out. It cannot be fixed with duct tape.
Engineers, crew and the scientific team are attempting to get the parts we need … from locations across the country…from another ship the Nancy Foster… on a holiday. Are you feeling their pain?
The scientific team has worked so diligently in preparing for this cruise. Teams of researchers who do not normally work so closely came together for this mission. They joined their funding sources, their research and their “equipment” (the ship, TowCam, computer software, etc.) to develop a multipurpose mission that will add data to their work in order to build a deeper understanding of deep-sea coral habitats. Some of the most experienced people in the ocean science community are aboard. Their enthusiasm and passion for their work is contagious. I heard one of the scientists is on his 50th cruise! (Happy golden anniversary!) What a lineup!
While the team is visibly disappointed with the setback, they have worked together to solve the problem. During the science team meeting scientists shared when something like “this” happened to them. Executive Officer Bohaboy wrote about problem solving at sea. He wrote, “Though it is very rare that we suffer multiple lost days at sea like we did at the beginning of this trip, every cruise always has issues to overcome. The ship itself is a very complex system of linked systems. A break down in one of these systems can cause a delay in the mission. Note that one of the most important shipboard systems, which might be easy to overlook, is the ship’s crew and scientists, whose specialized skills and training are crucial to completing the mission.” Yes, the mission is not what was expected, but everyone moves forward and makes the best of a difficult situation. The members of the team have also kept working on their individual projects, and while Vince may have enough work to keep him busy for two years, I am trying to find things to do.
I too have made the best of the situation. Not used to sitting around, I have been reading and writing. (See I told you never to travel without a good book!) I found an excellent small picnic table on deck where I can be out of the way, and still watch what is going on. I have also found ways to keep busy by watching, listening, and having conversations with the scientists so I can build a better understanding of their work. We all have lots of questions when we are learning new things, but before I ask questions, I watch, listen and think. I try to find of answers myself. Everyone on board has been helpful and supportive. The most exciting thing is when the scientists, mappers, or modelers say, “Let me show you!”
The students at Lowell helped create a list of Big Questions about the oceans and corals, and today we will begin to talk about question #2:
How do scientists study deep sea coral?
One way the scientists study the corals is by identifying places where corals like to live. They figure if they find the habitat, they will locate corals. On this mission, a TowCam (towed camera) is towed by the ship and will record images of what the bottom of the ocean looks like (Ground-truthing). It will also show what animals live there.
When you think about it, the technical setback is an excellent lesson for you students at Lowell School. Many times we want to do something and we just cannot do it. So many things can keep us from doing our best work. Some problems are within our ability to fix, some are not. We can blame others, get emotional, and give up, or we can find solutions that will help us meet those challenges to be better prepared the next time. This team solved their problems by cooperating with and working with one another. You can use the teamwork problem solving strategy in your work too! The simple message of problem solving crosses all activities we do as students, teachers, and scientists. We may not be conducting the research (yet), but we are problem solving. “How can we make this work?” “How can we do this better?”
Until next time:)