NOAA Teacher at Sea
(Soon to be) Onboard NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter
June 5– 24, 2013
Mission: Ecosystem Monitoring Survey
Geographical area of cruise: The continental shelf from north of Cape Hatteras, NC, including Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine, to the Nova Scotia Shelf
Hi my name is Sue Cullumber and I am a science teacher at the Howard Gray School in Scottsdale, Arizona. Our school provides 1:1 instruction to students with special needs in grades 5-12 and I have been teaching there for over 22 years! In less than two weeks I will be heading out to the Atlantic coast as a NOAA Teacher at Sea. I am so excited to have this opportunity to work with the scientists aboard the NOAA ship Gordon Gunter.
I applied to the NOAA Teacher at Sea program for the following reasons:
First, I feel that directly experiencing “Science” is the best way for students to learn and make them excited about learning. To be able to work directly with NOAA scientists and bring this experience back to my classroom gives my students such an amazing opportunity to actually see how science is used in the “real world”.
Secondly, I love to learn myself, experience new things and bring these experiences back to my students. Over the past several years I have had the opportunity to participate in several teacher fellowships. I went to the Galapagos Islands with the Toyota International Teacher Program and worked with teachers from the Galapagos and U.S. on global environmental education. From this experience we built an outdoor habitat at Howard Gray that now houses four tortoises. Students have learned about their own fragile desert environment, animal behavior and scientific observations through access to our habitat and had the opportunity to share this with a school in the Galapagos. I worked with Earthwatch scientists on climate change in Nova Scotia and my students Skyped directly with the scientists to learn about the field research as it was happening. Last summer I went to Japan for the Japan-US Teacher Exchange Program for Education for Sustainable Development. My students participated in a peace project by folding 1000 origami cranes that we sent to Hiroshima High School to be placed in the Hiroshima Peace Park by their students. We also held a Peace and Friendship Festival for the community at Howard Gray.
This year we had a group of Japanese teachers visit our school from this program and students taught them about many of the sustainable activities that we are working on at school. Each has brought new ideas and amazing activities for my students to experience in the classroom and about the world.
Lastly, Arizona is a very special place with a wide variety of geographical environments from the Sonoran Desert (home of the Saguaro) to a Ponderosa Pine Forest in Flagstaff and of course the Grand Canyon! However, we do not have an ocean and many of my students have never been to an ocean, so I can’t wait to share this amazing, vast and extremely important part of our planet with them.
So now I have the chance of a lifetime to sail aboard the NOAA ship Gordon Gunter on an Ecosystem Monitoring Survey. We will be heading out from Newport, RI on June 5th and head up the east coast to the Gulf of Maine and then head back down to Norfolk, Virginia. Scientists have been visiting this same region since 1977 from as far south as Cape Hatteras, NC to the an area up north in the Bay of Fundy (Gulf of Maine between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia). They complete six surveys a year to see if the distributions and abundance of organisms have changed over time. I feel very honored to be part of this research in 2013!
One of the activities I will be part of is launching a drifter buoy. So students are busy decorating stickers that I will be able to put on the buoy when I head out to sea. We will be able to track ocean currents, temperature and GPS location at Howard Gray over the next year from this buoy. Students will be studying the water currents and weather patterns and I plan to hold a contest at school to see who can determine where the buoy will be the following month from this information. While out at sea my students will be tracking the location of the Gordon Gunter through theNOAA Ship Tracker and placing my current location on a map that one of my students completed for my trip.
Outside of school, I love to spend most of my free time outdoors – usually hiking or exploring our beautiful state and always with my camera! Photography is what I often call “my full-time hobby”. Most of my photos are of our desert environment, so I look forward to all amazing things I will see in the ocean and be able to share with my husband and son, students and friends! One of my passions is to use my photography to provide an understanding about the natural world, so I am really looking forward to sharing this fantastic adventure with everyone through my blog and photos!