NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
September 15 – 30, 2018
Mission: Shark/Red Snapper Longline Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: September 16, 2018
Greetings to those following my adventure from afar. My name is Kristin Hennessy-McDonald, but my students and fellow faculty call me Dr. Hen-Mc. I am so excited to have been selected to be a member of the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program aboard the Oregon II. I am the science lead at T-STEM Academy at East High School, where I teach Honors Biology. My path to the classroom was far from straight. I attended the University of Notre Dame, where I earned a B.S. in Biology. I then continued my academic path at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, where I earned my PhD in Cell Physiology. After spending a little less than 3 years at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, I had an epiphany. I found that I enjoyed sharing my passion about science more than doing research at the bench. I made the decision to transition to the classroom and have not looked back. 8 years later, I have found my home at T-STEM, and my family in Team East.
The journey to boarding the Oregon II has been a long one, but well worth it. When my boss brought the opportunity to me, I applied with hope. When I got the acceptance letter, I gasped and started jumping up and down in my classroom. My students were confused, but then excited when they found out that I had gotten this opportunity. I teach many of the same students who were in that class, and they have all been sharing in my excitement over the past months as I have prepared for this adventure.
I have always been fascinated by water. From the time I was a small child, my parents would have to watch carefully when we went to the pool or the beach, because I was liable to jump right in. As I grew up, that love of water has remained, and I spend time each summer on the Gulf. I am thrilled to have a chance to study ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico, and see things that I only read about in National Geographic magazine.
I have passed my love of water on to my daughter. Beth is the same way I was when I was young. She wants to run into the water, to play in the waves. She sees the beauty of the sea, watching dolphins alongside the boat when we take trips to Ship Island out of Gulfport, MS. I look forward to sharing my adventures at sea with her. I am sad to leave her and my husband for two weeks, but grateful that they waved me off on my adventures with a smile.
I began my career as a teacher because I wanted to share my love of science with young people. I dreamed of someday being a child’s gateway to the wonders and knowledge of science. While none of my students have stood on a desk reciting Whitman, some of my students have allowed my love of science to guide them along science career paths. When I joined Team East at T-STEM Academy at East High School, I knew that I was in a place that would foster the idea of learning by doing. I wanted to exemplify that going on this trip. I cannot wait to bring all of the knowledge and experiences of this trip back to my classroom. Instead of just sharing case studies of Gulf Coast ecosystems, I will be able to share what I learned as a NOAA Teacher at Sea.
Personal Quote of the day
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
Did You Know?
Red Snappers are considered to be one of the top predators in the Gulf of Mexico?
Question of the day
Given that red snapper hatch at 0.0625 inches long, and can reach sizes of 16 inches within two years, do you think their cells have a long or short G1 phase?