NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 8-25, 2013
Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Kodiak, Alaska
Date: June 24, 2013
Greetings from Philadelphia, almost 5,000 miles away from Kodiak, Alaska, where I will be meeting up with the NOAA ship Rainier in a few short weeks. A few years ago, one of my students made me an award that characterized my personality with the phrase, “I’m so excited!” and this is how I feel about my upcoming cruise with NOAA. Between the science, the opportunity to work with some amazing people, and the scenery, I can’t believe my good fortune in having this opportunity.
My name is Rosalind Echols, and I teach students physics at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. I also coordinate our “Capstone” senior project program, and teach a ceramics elective. I like to stay busy, so in my “free time”, I coach ultimate Frisbee and cross country. One of the most exciting features of the school I teach it is that our whole curriculum is project based, meaning that all of the learning is contextualized and applicable to settings beyond the classroom. I am looking forward to being able to bring what I learn this summer on the Rainier back to my classroom in the form of new and exciting projects. Although Philadelphia is close to the now-infamous “Jersey Shore,” my students do not have a great deal of experience with the ocean, particularly in the realm of science, so I hope that this experience helps me identify ways to make oceanographic topics more relevant to their lives.
The main mission of the Rainier is a hydrographic survey, mapping the sea floor in coastal areas to support NOAA’s nautical charting program. This is particularly important because it allows chart-makers to identify areas of possible danger as well as safe shipping routes. If you are looking for more information right away, you can check out the Rainier’s homepage, but rest assured, I’ll be sharing plenty of information through this blog as I learn more about our mission! From reading about past missions, I have found that even in re-surveying areas previously charted, the ships sometimes find new features on the sea floor which, had they remained unknown, could have been dangerous to ships in the area. The Rainier does this research using a variety of sonar systems, both on board the Rainier itself and from several smaller boats it can launch.
I will be with the Rainier for 18 days, just shy of its 22-day endurance limit. During this time, we will be sailing around the Shumagin Islands and possibly other places on the Alaska Peninsula, starting and ending in Kodiak, Alaska. As a native Seattle-ite, I am particularly looking forward to the scenery and the weather in Alaska, as it should remind me of my home town. I also can’t wait to share what I see and learn with my students back in Philadelphia, most of whom have never been out in this direction.