Sue Zupko: 2 Getting Ready to Go

Close up of sea shells in water at the shore
Sea Shells at the Shore

As a novice to sailing, I must rely on what the crew has told me to bring.  In case of having to abandon ship (that’s a comforting thought), I need a hat, long sleeved shirt, and long pants.  Seems like a good way to cover up and protect myself from the sun.  They say it might be cool on board so I’m bringing a sweatshirt and windbreaker.  When I say I’m going on a cruise, people instantly think of a big cruise liner with a pool and a huge auditorium.  NOAA Ship Pisces is 209 feet (63.8 m) long.  Sounds big until you think that that’s about the length of a hockey rink, 3/4 of a football field, or a bit more than four school buses.  No need for a swim suit or good clothes.  Not going swimming and the galley (dining room) is strictly casual.  The stateroom (bedroom) is small so don’t bring a big suitcase.  I bought a rolling duffel bag so it would collapse yet still roll in an airport.

In a way this will be like going to camp with a few differences.  For our fifth grade  it would be like going to the Great Smokey Mountain Institute at Tremont in Tennessee.  Tremont has bunk beds as does the Pisces.  I’ll be sharing a room with one female scientist rather than 40 girls and chaperones.  At Tremont you bring your own bedding.  On the ship, it’s  provided.  At least I won’t have to carry my sleeping bag though they did suggest bringing my favorite pillow.  At Tremont the staff feeds you great food.  I’ve heard you eat well on the Pisces and to make sure to work out.  At Tremont you study nature in the woods and streams.  On the Pisces, I’ll be surrounded by the ocean and will study nature above and below the surface.  In both places you must be prepared for a variety of weather conditions.  How to do that with one little suitcase?  I drove to Tremont and took lots of things in my van.  I must be more prudent packing for the Pisces since space is limited.  In both places it’s fun and exciting to learn new things and do scientific research.

My most important gear besides my clothes will be my camera and video equipment.  I have to carry those items on the plane rather than putting them in my duffel.  I want to bring back lots of pictures and video for my students to better understand the work we’ll be doing.  They can use this information in their technology projects.  My students made some interesting videos this year.  One was a “public service announcement” for the school to recycle old phone books rather than throwing them away.  Our school earned money in a recycling contest and we want to make sure to repeat that next school year.  Two other videos students created teach about the “seven habits“, a program our school uses to help inspire kids to be leaders and take responsibility for their lives.  Every year we have at least one video about the service dogs we raise for Canine Companions for Independence.  So, with a ton of video about corals and life aboard a ship, I can only imagine what they will choose to do.  Be sure to check back to see some of the projects they’ve developed as a result of this trip.