NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Rainier
September 9-26, 2013
Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographic Area: South Alaska Peninsula and Shumagin Islands
Date: September 7, 2013
Partly cloudy at the Anchorage Airport
Lat 61.217 N, Lon 149.900 W
Although Mapquest says ‘you can’t get there from here’, when queried about routes from Carbondale, CO to Kodiak, AK, I am sitting in the Anchorage Airport and well on my way to meeting up with the NOAA Ship Rainier. While it’s easy to make a list of exactly how I’m getting to Kodiak (drive to Vail, CO, shuttle van to Denver, fly from Denver to Seattle, Seattle to Anchorage, and Anchorage to Kodiak), it’s a little more complicated to actually describe my journey to Kodiak and the Rainier.
I’m not sure that the journey only started when I packed my large, orange duffel bag and threw it in the car. That bag, currently either in the underbelly of a plane or sitting in a stack somewhere in the bowels of the airport, is filled with the clothing and personal supplies I’ll need for the next 3 weeks. Topping the list of clothing is a pair of Xtratuffs–rubber boots to keep my feet dry on the ship and when we’re on shore. Speaking of dry, I have 2 sets of raingear; a gore-tex parka and pants for those mostly wet days, and pvc-coated nylon parka and pants for the truly wet days. Rumor has it that it could be a bit rainy in the Shumagin Island area. I have long underwear to keep me warm, a wool hat to keep my head toasty, and the usual assortment of jeans and t-shirts for time ‘indoors’ on the ship.
Sometimes I think this journey started while planning 3 weeks of lesson plans for my students. My mind was already on the ship as I was creating those plans and trying to link my students’ activities with some of what I will be learning during my cruise. I created an independent study plan for students who wanted to earn science credit by following along with my blogs and reading the blogs of other teachers. All that planning gave me ample time to think about the journey that lay ahead, and to, perhaps, already start the journey while I was sitting at my desk.
This journey to Kodiak and the Shumagin Islands certainly has some foundation in my endless perusal of the Teacher at Sea blogs this summer. I was an avid reader of blogs from teachers aboard the Rainier, but also took time to read journals from teachers in other oceans and locations. Since I’ve never been on a ship this was a great way to start my trip a little bit ‘early’.
Did this journey begin way back when I applied for the Teacher at Sea program? After all, part of the application process involved envisioning how I would use this experience in my classroom. I had been following other teacher’s cruises for many years, so it was great to have to visualize myself on a ship and what I could learn from such an experience.
But, when I really think about this journey, it might actually have started long ago, when I was a child. I was lucky enough to grow up in a household that was, to put it mildly, firmly rooted in science and looking at the world as one giant science experiment. I was taught to ‘think like a scientist’, observing the world around me and asking questions (and searching for answers) about our planet.
It comes down to a question of scale. Is it really just a journey of 3000+ miles from Carbondale to Kodiak, or is it the sum total of days, months, or even years? Either way, I can’t wait for this part of the journey to end and my life on the ship to begin!