NOAA Teacher at Sea
(Almost) Aboard NOAA Ship Gordon GunterApril 29-May 11, 2013
Mission: Northern Right Whale Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise: Atlantic Ocean out of Woods Hole, MA
Date: April 24, 2013
I am quite certain I am about to fall in love with a whale, as I embark upon a journey that will surely change me forever. My name is Angela Greene, and I have had the honor of teaching middle school in the Tecumseh Local School District for the last twenty-five years!
I care deeply about my students, and I am committed to providing them with amazing science experiences in my classroom! I love my job, my students, and learning. I am a NOAA Teacher at Sea!
I applied for the NOAA Teacher at Sea program because I believe the best way to develop myself, as a professional educator is to seek out field experiences that will enable me to work side by side with leaders in the scientific community. I can’t think of a better way to efficiently expose my students to careers in the field of science as well as the scientific issues that will directly affect their lives than to “walk in the shoes” of highly trained scientists.
The purpose of this blog is to tell my family, students, friends, and colleagues a story, a love story, if you will. I hope to share my love of teaching, my love of wildlife, and my insatiable love for learning.
In only a few hours, I will fly to Boston, Massachusetts, take a bus to Woods Hole, and board the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter. The ship will take me, as well as a group of ocean scientists, into the Northern Atlantic to search for the critically endangered Northern Right Whale.
At this point, I know very little about this mammal, so I enlisted the help of my 8th grade scientists using a technique I called “Teach Your Teacher”. Together, we brainstormed a list of questions about Right Whales, the Gordon Gunter, and marine research. Each student selected a topic, complied a summary of their findings and wrote me a quick “good bye” note. I collected the pages and promised not to read them until I was on the bus to Woods Hole.
I also wanted my students to have an understanding of the actual size of Northern Right Whales and other North Atlantic Whale species. We celebrated our new learning and my incredible opportunity to sail with NOAA by having “Tecumseh Middle School Whale Day”. For one day the concrete campus of our school became ocean habitats to student-created “chalk whales”. We calculated the actual size of four whale species using the scaled measurements of sketches found in our research. This data enabled us to create over forty whales using sidewalk chalk! We were amazed at the size of our whales, and the chalk models enabled us to compare the external anatomy among the species. Our local news channel, WDTN, stopped by to film us for the evening news! We determined that 14 middle school students could fit head to toe along the length of a fin whale. We had a terrific day!
My preparation time is coming to an end. I need to finish packing, say my goodbyes to my family and dogs, and focus on the journey that’s about to begin. One of the most important lessons a teacher can learn from rare field experience opportunities is that this time will quickly end. I promise to enjoy every second while I am falling in love with a brand new world.