John Bilotta, Preparing to set sail for the South Atlantic aboard the Nancy Foster, June 9, 2014

NOAA Teacher at Sea

John Bilotta

Aboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster

18 June – 29 June, 2014

 

Mission: South Atlantic Marine Protected Area Survey

Geographical area of cruise: South Atlantic

Date: Monday, June 9

About me – an introduction

Hello from the Land of 10,000 Lakes and more than 69,200 miles of streams and rivers that all eventually lead to Earth’s oceans where I am headed next as we prepare to depart from Mayport, Florida aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster.  My name is John Bilotta (“JB” as many people call me) and I am an educator in water resources and earth sciences for a variety of K12 student, classroom, and adult-citizen leader programs.  I have been teaching now for over 20 years. I am honored to be a part of NOAA’s TAS program for 2014.   I am very excited to join a group of oceanic researchers and experts for an extended period of time and make a stronger connection to the multiple concepts I teach about Earth’s oceans and landforms.  One of my teaching philosophies is to see, touch, smell and be out on the water for effective, interdisplinary education.  I spend so much time talking and teaching about the oceans that I am just excited to apply that philosophy to my own learning.

About my teaching

I am the Education Director and an Instructor with Earth Adventure, a nonprofit that provides K12-adult education programs across the country

John teaching inside the Earth Balloon.

John teaching inside the Earth Balloon.

in earth science, geography, water, and environmental sciences. The Earth Balloon brings the entire Earth into a classroom and is an exciting and effective platform (that thrills students and adults alike) to learn about the Earth, its oceans, continents and the forces at work.

I am also an Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota’s Sea Grant and Land Grant Extension programs where I concentrate on developing and teaching watershed management programs with a strong focus on stormwater and general pollution prevention strategies.

John teaching the Watershed Game as part of a NEMO workshop-on-the-water delivered though Minnesota Sea Grant and Extension.

John teaching the Watershed Game as part of a NEMO workshop-on-the-water delivered though Minnesota Sea Grant and Extension.

It’s up on the land where we as humans often have the greatest impact that ultimately impact oceans, lakes, and rivers.  The aspiration of my teaching is that we can minimize those impacts through increased knowledge and awareness.

About my NOAA Adventure – the work I will do

The SubAtlantic Mohawk 18 from the University of North Carolina that we will be using.

The SubAtlantic Mohawk 18 from the University of North Carolina that we will be using.

I am joining a team of scientists and crew that will conduct ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) and multibeam sonar surveys inside and outside five marine protected areas (MPAs) in the south Atlantic to assess the usefulness of this management tool to protect and help manage fisheries on the continental shelf edge. The work will include conducting ROV transect surveys of habitat and fish assemblages, conducting total water column profiles, and conducting multibeam sonar mapping.   I am excited to make connections to how we use bathymetry here in Minnesota to assess lakes, how they function, and our impacts to them.

Did you know?

Ocean Facts – some topics I teach with the Earth Balloon

The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the planet’s surface, driving weather, regulating temperature, and ultimately supporting all living organisms including us as humans.  Yet 95 percent of this vastness remains unexplored, unseen by human eyes.  I am looking forward to exploring just a little bit of it for myself.  Have some fun and test your knowledge…Play the Ocean Challenge Puzzle

 A Great Sea in Minnesota – Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area and the third largest by volume.  Lake Superior is one of Minnesota’s conduits to the open ocean.

Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge and Canal.  From here its just a travel through five Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway into the Atlantic Ocean.

Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge and Canal. From here its just a short travel through five Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway into the Atlantic Ocean. I took this picture as I returned from a excursion out on Lake Superior.

The Mighty Mississippi –it begins here!  Minnesota is the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River and is our conduit to the Gulf of Mexico.  Oh and by the way, I live not far off this majestic river in Minneapolis and I have to say, there is hardly a day that passes that I don’t get to see it and appreciate it.

The Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis; I have almost a daily encounter with this majestic river.

The Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis; I have almost a daily encounter with this majestic river.

And so my adventure and learning begins! I am nearly packed and ready to go, I am just trying to figure out how to get Lucille, my bulldog, into my duffle bag and past the ship’s XO (Executive Officer) as I board the ship.  I will miss her much while out at sea.

Lucille, the simply just too amazing bulldog.

Lucille, the simply just too amazing bulldog.