NOAA Teacher at Sea
(Not Quite Yet) Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
June 22, 2013 – July 3, 2013
Mission: Hydrographic survey
Geographical area of cruise: Mid-Atlantic
Date: June 12, 2013
Hi everyone! My name is Yaara Crane, and I live in Falls Church, Virginia with my husband and 5-month old puppy, Riley. I am in the last week of my 7th year teaching for Fairfax County Public Schools. I applied for the NOAA Teacher at Sea program for multiple reasons, including expanding my knowledge of chemistry into new applications that can be relevant to my students. One of the exciting things about going on a Mid-Atlantic cruise will be that I am studying our “backyard” ocean; how much more relevant can it get? I read that part of this year’s mission is to investigate the effect of Hurricane Sandy, which certainly affected us here in Virginia. We lost school days to the hurricane, so it will be very educational to learn what happened to our coastline due to the hurricane.
When I was picking my major at the University of Maryland, I immediately chose chemistry and stuck with it all four years. I have always been enthralled by science and thought I would spend my life doing research. However; I found that when I added my second major in education, I couldn’t imagine the idea of being alone in a lab when I could be surrounded by people all day instead! This experience lets me have the best of both worlds for a couple of weeks. Hopefully my time spent at sea will help me teach my students to expand their horizons and really think outside the box about what life could look like after high school or college.
This past school year, I taught General Chemistry and IB Chemistry to a very diverse group of students at Annandale High School. The coolest part of being a chemistry teacher at Annandale? Our mascot is the Atom! We are located inside the Washington, D.C. capital beltway and have had our diversity recognized by a visit from Michelle Obama and the first lady of South Korea last year. I love having students from all parts of the world who bring fresh and unique perspectives to my classroom each and every day. Also, teaching IB Chemistry requires my students to work on an interdisciplinary collaborative project. This past year, we studied the sustainability of our local Lake Accotink. Maybe next year, we can use the resources that I will learn while at sea to expand our horizons from the lake to the bay or the ocean.
Travelling is one of my greatest passions. From an early age, I was instilled with the desire to travel because my family lives all over the world. I have cousins in countries that include South Africa, Israel, Australia, and Brazil. For my honeymoon in 2010, my husband and I decided we needed to explore a new culture and have physical activity inherent in every day so we booked a trip to Belize. On our trip to Belize, we climbed ancient Mayan ruins, canoed into a several miles-long cave with only a guide and one headlight, went ziplining, biked, and snorkeled. My favorite day was when we hiked through the Maya mountains to have a picnic and swim in a secluded waterfall. We also got a small taste of ecotourism and learned how to identify howler monkeys, allspice, St. John’s wort, and the give-and-take tree. This honeymoon inspired me to lead a group of 12 students to Costa Rica the next spring break where we participated in several similar activities, and added the ecotourism element of searching for native fauna and climbing to the Poás volcano. I think my favorite part of the volcano was seeing the cause and effects of natural acid rain so clearly, as opposed to the anthropogenic sources that surround me in a metropolitan area.
I hope to learn lots of new skills, both personal and scientific, when aboard the Thomas Jefferson. This experience will be a wonderful combination of science, teaching, and travelling. I am getting excited and a little stir-crazy as my students prepare for their final exams, and I prepare for my summer adventure!