On Monday, August 30, 2022, I met my shipmates in Cape Canaveral in front of the ship. We all had to take a self-administered Covid-19 test and wait 30 minutes for the results to appear on the sensor. I was so nervous staring at the apparatus every 5 seconds waiting for the light to brighten on a negative result. That was too much stress! What if it said positive? Would I have to head back to Atlanta or wait a few days? Once the ship leaves the dock, then it does not disembark until the end of the research project. That would have been a disaster! Luckily my results were negative! I was able to board the 170 feet ship NOAA Oregon II, locate my room and take a quick tour.
This ship’s homeport is Pascagoula, Mississippi and conducts a variety of research surveys in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean. The surveys focus on fisheries, marine mammals, and plankton. Commanding Officer Eric Johnson can lead his staff for up to 33 days at a time. The following are the maximum numbers for the staff.
Commissioned Officers/Mates = 5, Licensed Engineers = 3, Unlicensed Engineers = 2, Deck = 6, Stewards = 2, Electronic Technician = 1, Total Crew = 19, Scientists = 12. Up to 12 people can sit in the dining area at one time with 6 people spread amongst 2 tables.
The ship is equipped with a 275 square feet wet lab, 210 square feet hydro lab, 100 square feet bio lab, 75 square feet computer lab, 4 dive team equipment, 2 cranes, a cradle, trawl nets, hydraulics, ropes, long line fishing gear, a medical treatment room, a laundry room, and a rescue boat that can hold 6 people.
We had to wait for 17,000 gallons of diesel fuel to fill the ship, stock the kitchen, and get other necessary supplies. Can you calculate how much this gas costs in your city? There are a lot of factors that affect the outcome of our journey as we crisscross around the Gulf of Mexico. Luckily, we have trained professionals doing their job!
I appreciate my Uncle Bill who made sure I arrived in Cape Canaveral safely. It was good to see him with his gracious welcome to Orlando, Florida. Now that I completed the initial paperwork & received a negative Covid result, I am happy to meet my shipmates! My work schedule will be from 12pm to 12am with breaks in between. I’m the only Teacher at Sea on this ship along with 2 college interns and a volunteer. We are all excited about the upcoming experience. There’s a lot of information to learn in a short period of time, but I think I can manage. My state room has a full bathroom, lots of storage space & twin bunkbeds with curtains. I chose the top bunk. I met with Mr. Collin Lynch, Chief Electronics Technician as soon as I got settled into my room. He made sure my computer & cell phone are connected to the Wi-Fi system. I really appreciate him because I still need to connect with my students, plan lessons & make sure they get assistance as needed during my breaks.
While my shipmates & I waited for the supplies to come in, we had dinner at the local restaurants along the waterfront. I learned how to keep score in a darts game and still lost. I had hoped to see a rocket launch, but the mission was cancelled/postponed. The disappointed people were in traffic starting at 3am in the morning to get a good spot. Oh well, maybe next time.
I enjoyed listening to the stories, having great meals & asking a few questions. I found out that some of them conduct surveys for up to 45 days before they go home. Some are married with kids while others are single, or kids are grown now. Either way, they adjust to life at sea. Check out a few pictures from my flight to time in Cape Canaveral.
Greetings from Atlanta, Georgia. Join me during my research on the NOAA Ship Oregon II in an expedition studying shark and red snapper. I am excited to board the ship in Cape Canaveral, Florida and head to the Gulf of Mexico for about 14 days. Be a part of my journey and interact through my blog.
I first learned about NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program while at the Georgia Aquarium for a workshop two years ago. I immediately looked up more information & started the application process. Although I was accepted & thrilled to participate, Covid-19 delayed my departure. Please understand how frustrated I was as the world’s plans changed before my eyes! Normally I delete spam emails, but I did several searches to make sure I didn’t miss out on the email contacting me back to the original plan. I was so excited to finally get the news I’ve been waiting for that I did a happy dance.
In 2017 I was fortunate to participate in the Georgia Aquarium “Rivers to Reefs” program where educators spent one week testing water in the Altamaha River Watershed. We started in Atlanta and worked our way to Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Savannah, Georgia. Our field experiences included a behind the scenes tour of the Georgia Aquarium, testing water in Shoals Creek on Glenwood Avenue, High Falls State Park in Jackson Georgia, canoe the Ocmulgee River where it meets the Oconee River, Sapelo Island Marine Institute, and Skidaway Island Marine Science Center. This experience opened my eyes to more opportunities for my students and enlightened me on how humans effect the environment. I immediately worked on developing student project presentations and fieldtrips the next school year. I love seeing the “Aha” moments and taking my students to Skidaway Island and other places around the world. I get just as excited as them when they figure out things work.
While studying Math & Computer Science at Savannah State University, I spent a lot of time in the Marine Biology building working on projects, catching small crabs at the school’s dock, walking to the docks at Thunderbolt, and Tybee Island collecting samples. This allowed me to relax, rejuvenate, learn about the environment and be creative. Now I challenge my students and people around me to do the same. Currently I teach Algebra, Geometry & Pre-Calculus and would like to incorporate more cross-curricular projects with my students.
Upcoming Surveys in the Gulf of Mexico
My work hours will be from 12pm – 12am leaving from Cape Canaveral & headed to the Gulf of Mexico aboard the NOAA Ship OregonII. I am excited to work with all types of sharks & red snapper along the way. Listen, if I pull a shark from the tail will it try to bite me? How close do I need to be? How long can the fish be out of water while I carefully examine it & put back in the ocean? What will I use all this information for? Are you trying to make me shark meat? Which statistic will I increase? What if a hurricane approaches, do I need to record that too or leave town? Soon I will find out. Let’s get started!
What did the faculty & students have to say before I depart?
Last week students & faculty members had something to say about this exciting journey I will participate in with NOAA. I am honored to carry the torch for the Teacher at Sea Program this year and proudly immerse myself in the entire experience. Check out what a few people had to say.
Student Da’Vaughn T. : “I would like field trips such as helping the marine life and be able to visit underwater animals.”
Math Instructional Coach Eboni Arnold: “Science research can help students at McNair High School by enhancing their critical thinking skills, mathematical competency as well as gain an in-depth knowledge of science based real life practical skills to enhance their learning. Environmental issues are related to STEAM because the more students and educators know about the environment, they are able to raise awareness of the importance of being environmentally safe and protecting our society through learned experiences. Everyone can benefit from this amazing experience through Ms. Hastie sharing her blogs, notes, her own experiences, and the connections she will make with her students, colleagues, and within McNair High School. Ms. Hastie is an excellent choice for this opportunity because she always connects real-life opportunities to her classroom instruction. She provides opportunities for students to experience life outside the classroom through field trips and project-based learning.”
Principal Dr. Loukisha Walker:
“Hello, my name is Dr. Loukisha Walker and I am a proud principal of Dr. Ronald E. McNair High School in Atlanta, Georgia. I would like to speak on why Ms. Hastie is the perfect choice for the Teacher at Sea Program.
“For Ms. Hastie, this opportunity is simply an extension of prior and current activities that she has used to expose students to opportunities and programs that would otherwise be out of reach for our students. This allows students to broaden their scope of possibilities for careers and even travel. Ms. Hastie, in addition to all of these things, is an avid blogger, project creator, and loves to communicate what she has learned to students to give them wisdom and insight, though they did not experience it first hand. For this reason and others, Ms. Hastie is simply the perfect choice for the Teacher at Sea Program. I know that Ms. Hastie, and her work ethic, and the way she pays attention to detail, she will take all of that information and bring it back to our students and make sure that she relays that information to them. She’s gonna talk about how exciting it is for them. She’s going to even speak on just her experience for being at sea for so many days. So with all of those things in mind, Ms. Hastie is going to not only do an amazing job while she’s at sea for 15 days, but she’s going to record, she’s going to continue to blog while she’s there, she’s gonna take a ton of photos and she’s going to come back and make sure our students experience it as if they were there with her.
“This is Ms. Hastie, this is her work ethic, and we’re so proud of her and we know she’s going to do an amazing job with the Teacher at Sea Program. Congratulations once again, Go Mustangs, and we are proud of you.“
Assistant Principal of Attendance & Testing, Dr. Barbara Long:
“Good afternoon, my name is Dr. Barbara Long. I serve as the assistant principal of attendance and testing at the fantastic Dr. Ronald E. McNair High School. We are so proud of Ms. Maronda Hastie and all that she is going to learn, do, and share when she returns from this amazing adventure. Science research can benefit our students at Dr. Ronald E. McNair High School in multiple ways. Number 1, it will surely help to develop our students’ problem solving, analytical, and critical thinking skills. Hopefully students will engage in actionable research projects following this pursuit and partner and collaborate with others to devise solutions to these real life problems and ultimately benefit the communities in which we live. So I’m looking forward to the engagement, activities, and application of the real science for our students. Proud to be a leader here.”
Art Teacher Debra Jeter:
“There’s something that’s universal about science research that could not only benefit the students at McNair, but benefit anyone to know what’s going on around us. How else can we, you know, contribute or help or even understand and live in this world if we don’t have some understanding of, you know, what’s going on around us. And the ocean is so important to us. And I think Ms. Hastie is a great choice for this, because not only has she been well traveled, but she has a great interest in science research and the environment.
“And not only that, but she does the most, you know? Like, she’ll be in there, following them and asking questions and writing it down and making sure she bring it back and share with McNair. And so many of these environmental issues are related to STEAM, too, which is a big concern for all the teachers at McNair, because environmental issues, as global warming continues, is gonna be vital for us all to understand how we can contribute to making our environment more peaceful. And not so hostile, and, you know, so many species are going extinct, if we just let this continue, we might be extinct too. And I’m sure that she’s gonna benefit… We’ll all benefit from her experience of being out there. I can’t wait to hear her stories and see her photos. I’ve been on journeys with her before she’s a marvelous… She know how to find places and go places and do things, she’s very capable. It’s gonna be fascinating just to hear her second-hand stories of what she found and how we can help make the world a better place.”
Business & Technology Teacher Wanda Charles-Henley
“Hello, my name is Wanda Charles-Henley and I’m a business teacher here at McNair High School. And I’d like to answer question number two: how and why is Ms. Hastie a good choice for this opportunity? I think Ms. Hastie is a perfect candidate for this opportunity because she’s always willing to go above and beyond for not only the students here at McNair, but also the staff members. She’s always willing to lend a helping hand. As a new teacher here, she was the first one to come and say she would teach me some of the new programs ’cause I’d been out of education for a while. She’s always one of the last teachers to leave the building. So she has a number of programs that she has coordinated for the students, exposing them to a lot of the opportunities outside of school. She also has the Chick-fil-A Leadership Program. She’ll coordinate activities for the students such as skating, coordinate activities such as environmentally cleaning up the Chattahoochee River. She’s always coming up with innovative ways to get the students involved. And I just think she will be an excellent candidate, and she is an outstanding teacher, and I can’t wait to see what she brings back to McNair High School and all the information she’s gonna share with us. Go Ms. Hastie!”
Culinary Arts Teacher Chef Leslie Gordon-Hudson:
“Okay, my question that I will be answering is how and why is Ms. Hastie a good choice for this opportunity… Ms. Hastie is a good choice for this opportunity, ’cause she is one teacher, I know, that will go out and get the resources and the information and bring it back not just to her math class, but in the entire school and engage the entire school, and whatever the idea is or the project or the learn resource or whatever the systems that she learned, that’s why I think she’s a great choice for this program.”
Student Dieynabou D.:
“I believe that everyone can benefit from this great experience because it will provide excellent exposure into many things, including careers into oceanography. As a student leader, and a member of the National Beta Club here at McNair High School, I’m looking forward to creating community service activities that are involved with the environment.”
And here’s what I have to say:
“Hi, my name is Maronda Hastie. I am a representative of McNair High School in DeKalb County, Georgia. I am so excited to have been selected to be a part of the Teacher at Sea Program. I first heard about it at the Georgia Aquarium, and it is a program from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. So I’m excited that I’m gonna be studying shark and red snapper (hope the shark doesn’t eat me!) but I’m excited about studying the shark, because once I do all of my research for a few weeks, I get to bring it all back and I will share it with my colleagues, I will share it with my students, and I will share it with the community. So I feel like my job is to just spread the information about oceanic opportunities, as well as opportunities for the students to know about more careers, more field trips, more hands-on activities in the classroom. So I’ll develop a few lessons, so although I teach math, we can do interdisciplinary projects, so I’ll be working with, say, the science teacher, I work with the art teacher, I work with any teacher who would like to create lessons with me, so that we can, you know, expose our children. So I’m excited.“