Cindy Byers: Off to Alaska! April 15, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cindy Byers
Aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
April 29 – May 13, 2018

Mission: Southeast Alaska Hydrographic Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Southeast, Alaska

Date: April 15, 2018


In two weeks I will be embarking on my first ocean science experience aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather.  After having several friends become “Teachers at Sea,” I just knew that I wanted to have this experience so I could become a better ocean educator and bring this knowledge back to my students.

I am a seventh and eighth grade teacher from Rosholt Middle School, a small school district in rural Wisconsin.  Our pre-Kindergarten through 12 grade building has 650 students.  As a middle school teacher my duties include earth science, health, language and reading.  I also work with small groups of gifted students two hours a day.  It makes me flexibility and a “jack of all trades” as they say.

My real passion is science and environmental education, and I have found ways to teach my other subjects often using these as topics.

My students would tell you I like boats and working with scientists!  I have spent time working with Sea Grant on the Great Lakes.  Sea Grant is a network that is a partnership between 33 university-based programs and NOAA.  They are in every coastal and Great Lakes state.  I have attended and taught workshops for teachers through Sea Grant. In 2011, at the invitation of Sea Grant, I spent 9 days on Lake Superior with 16 other teachers and 3 scientists aboard the Environmental Protection Agency’s R/V Lake Guardian studying near and offshore environments.

In 2016, I was aboard Wisconsin’s Flagship, Denis Sullivan , with Sea Grant and a group of teachers on a six day journey up Lake Michigan and across Lake Superior.  This is the same tall ship that my seventh grade students sail on each fall.



I am so excited to be working on an ocean vessel.  I have always dreamed of going to Alaska, and I can not think of a better way to do it.

I will be on a hydrographic survey to collect data that will be used to produce maps for safe navigation. The instruments onboard include multibeam echosounders and side sonar that work to image the ocean floor.  Four small boats are also used to set up tide measuring stations. The data is also used for other scientific and environmental prediction purposes such as tsunami displacement measurements and mapping of fish habitat.

NOAA Ship Fairweather
NOAA Ship Fairweather (Courtesy of NOAA)

I am very excited to share how all of the science equipment is used and how the data is organized.  I would like to find a way to have my students be involved in science labs that use some of the techniques and data used by the scientists on the ship.  I would also like to learn more about careers in NOAA that some of my students may be interested in pursuing!


Did you know?

NOAA’s mission is: Science, Service and Stewardship

1. To understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts;

2. To share that knowledge and information with others; and

3. To conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.




5 Replies to “Cindy Byers: Off to Alaska! April 15, 2018”

  1. Cindy -safe travels and have a great time on Fairweather. I was a TAS last year and it has been life changing -I will be reading your blog. My best wishes to you and big hellos to everyone who was on the ship last June!

  2. Helen-Thank you for your comment! I am so excited to embark on this adventure. I will tell the crew hello from you.

  3. Cindy,
    I will also be a TAS this upcoming June, leaving from Dutch Harbor, AK on NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson. I can’t wait to follow your journey and hear more about your experiences! Safe travels, and happy researching!

  4. I could spend all day reading about your travels and experiences. Out of college I taught one year high school Juniors and Seniors mechanical drawing and architecture. I used up all of my patience in one year. I love to hear about the scientific investigations and all the work you area associated with. I think the Teachers at Sea is a great way to experience life on the water and learn how to better protect our oceans. Thanks for putting your experiences on line for all of us to enjoy.

  5. I am thrilled that you read my blog. It was such a great learning experience. I would encourage everyone who could to apply. My class is building prototypes of ROV’s (remotely operated vehicles) that could be used to study the ocean. They are applying a lot about what they have learned in our ocean unit!

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