NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
May 31 – June 22, 2023
Mission: 2023 Summer Acoustic-Trawl Survey of Walleye Pollock in the Gulf of Alaska
Geographic Area of Cruise: Islands of Four Mountains area, Western Gulf of Alaska
Location (in port): 57o 47.0200′ N, 152o 25.5543′ W
Date: May 31, 2023
Not every educator has the amazing opportunity to volunteer with scientists on a NOAA ship. But in 2014, that opportunity became a reality for me when I joined NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson for a hydrographic survey in the Atlantic Ocean. Now my journey at sea with NOAA continues in 2023 as I head out on NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson for an acoustic-trawl survey of walleye pollock populations in the Gulf of Alaska.
Ever since I was an undergraduate intern for two summers at NOAA Maine Operations Center – Atlantic in Norfolk, VA, I wanted to sail on a NOAA ship. The NOAA Teacher at Sea (TAS) program opened that door for me and has provided so much, from my own advancement of the science and technology used to map the ocean floor, to content and stories I share with students and at science outreach events for the public. Now as a TAS alumna, I can’t wait to see how much more I can learn, teach, and share from my latest ocean expedition with NOAA.
I’m a college professor, teaching introductory-level earth science courses primarily for non-STEM majors at Penn State Brandywine in Media, Pennsylvania. I am dedicated to not only helping my students build their science literacy but also seeing the relevance of why and how science matters in their present and future lives. My research has involved using technology tools to enhance student learning of geoscience content, with my current work focusing on having students produce audio narratives (or “podcasts”).
I also blog for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) about educational technology, pedagogy, and science communication on my blog GeoEd Trek. I’ve dedicated several posts on NOAA and its programs and resources . But it was my blog post A New Year’s resolution: help the public learn about NOAA (December 30, 2017) that caught the attention of RDML Tim Gallaudet, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at that time. He was kind enough to invite me to his office in Washington DC to thank me for the post – and, naturally, I wrote up a blog post about the visit and our conversation! That visit has been “the” highlight of all my NOAA experiences! (*see A conversation about science communication with NOAA’s RDML Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D. (March 13, 2018))
Heading back out to sea with NOAA in 2023 is special for so many reasons. Life for all of us was disrupted in March 2020 – the COVID pandemic has been long and hard. My teaching and research has had so many twists and turns, and I still don’t know how everything will be moving forward. Getting out to sea on my first-ever fisheries expedition is not just exciting for me, but it has been heartwarming to see how many of my students and colleagues are sending me messages and looking forward to frequent updates! In a way, I’m taking so many people out to sea with me, and I’m going to work so hard to make this an informative and thrilling adventure for us all!
Last year (2022) was a notable year for the field of oceanography. It was the 150-year celebration of when the H.M.S. Challenger set sail to collect meteorological and oceanographic data ranging from deep sea soundings and temperatures to biological samples. Although there were several ships that went out on scientific expeditions prior to 1872, the Challenger expedition (from 1872-1876) is the one credited as giving rise to the field of oceanography – and it’s interesting that before 1872, the term “oceanography” didn’t even exist in any dictionaries! I read the book Endless Novelties of Extraordinary Interest: The Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger and the Birth of Modern Oceanography by Doug Macdougall, and I couldn’t help but make connections between the methods of oceanographic research back at the time of Challenger versus today. Keep a look out for many comparisons between the work and logistics of Challenger to my experiences on Oscar Dyson in my upcoming blog posts – no doubt I will be sharing some current items of “extraordinary interest!”
I’m also looking forward to continuing to explore the intersections of science and art (STEAM) can be used to engage audiences and to communicate science data. I like to crochet temperature data and use these temperature records created in yarn for teaching and outreach (it is similar to the amazing work of The Tempestry Project!). While on board Oscar Dyson, I’ll not only be exploring under the sea but looking up towards the sky as my atmospheric observations will inform my Stitch the Sky project! Stay tuned for a future blog post to follow along and/or to create your own data visualization for your location.
*If you are interested in reading about my first TAS experience on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, here are direct links to those blog posts:
- Thomas Jefferson, Here I Come! August 22, 2014
- NOAA, the NOAA Corps, and Thomas Jefferson. August 29, 2014
- The NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson is on its way to… September 4, 2014
- From the bridge of the Thomas Jefferson. September 6, 2014
- The launches of the Thomas Jefferson. September 8, 2014
- Life on the Thomas Jefferson. September 11, 2014
- Pre- and post-hydrographic surveys on the Thomas Jefferson. September 12, 2014
- TJ at the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival. September 15, 2014
- “Holidays” on the Thomas Jefferson. September 17, 2014
- Days on the TJ Launch. September 18, 2014
- Thank you, Thomas Jefferson! September 19, 2014