NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA ship Oregon II
June 23 — July 7, 2013
Mission: Summer Groundfish Survey
Geographic area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: June 9, 2013
Summer vacation is right around the corner – just one more week of school! Students and teachers alike are busy wrapping up the school year and dreaming of that long, delicious vacation. While summer is a vacation from the classroom, it is hardly a vacation from learning. That learning may look a whole lot different than the school year; it takes place at summer camp, your grandmother’s kitchen, or even the beach. This summer I have the fabulous opportunity to join scientists aboard the NOAA research ship Oregon II as they conduct surveys of the fish in the Gulf of Mexico. I am excited to learn more about this ecosystem and the organisms that live there. I am equally excited to participate in real scientific research and to learn more about how scientists gather and use information. That’s right – even teachers have new things to learn.
Last summer my travels took me to the Great Lakes region where I camped, hiked, and explored. In the process I learned about the ecology and geology of the region (and swam in each of the Great Lakes). I also spent two weeks working on an organic farm, learning how to take care of vegetables and animals.
I discovered my love of teaching while working as an outdoor environmental educator, leading school groups on field trips to explore forests, ponds, and beach habitats. Kids are natural scientists out in the field, full of curiosity, with an ability to see things adults often miss, and a willingness to jump in and get their hands dirty. I made the transition into classroom teaching, bringing with me elements of that hands-on learning. I started out teaching 4th grade in Guilford, Vermont and then Brunswick, Maine. I currently teach at Community Day Charter Public School in Lawrence, Massachusetts and am thrilled to be the 4th – 6th grade science teacher. I also lead our Adventure Club, taking 6th – 8th grade students out hiking and camping in the nearby forests, mountains and coastlines. One of my goals is to make science more “real” for students by incorporating actual research into lessons and encouraging their own inquiry and exploration. I am hoping my time with the Teacher at Sea program will give me new tools, knowledge, and inspiration to bring back to my students.
While on board the Oregon II I will be assisting the scientists as they gather data about the organisms and water quality of the Gulf. Their tools will be more sophisticated and the body of water larger, but I imagine it is much like one of my favorite science lessons – pond scooping. Just last week I had my 4th graders out exploring a pond habitat. As we approached the pond they all noticed the bigger animals like the birds calling overhead and the frogs along the pond’s edge. But hidden underneath the water is a whole other world rarely seen. With nets and buckets we set out to explore, finding salamander larvae, tadpoles, water beetles, caddisfly larvae, isopods, copepods, snails and so much more. The ocean is much the same; we are drawn to the organisms easily seen like the shells on the beach or playful dolphins. But hidden out there beneath the waves are all sorts of living things, each with an intriguing story and an important role in the ecosystem. So in two weeks I will be standing on the deck of the ship, with nets and buckets, alongside a team of knowledgeable scientists and crew, ready to learn all about the ocean ecosystem.
CDCPS science students:
Can you name the 5 states and 2 countries that border the Gulf of Mexico?
What questions do you have about living on a research ship?