Susan Dee: A Thalassophile, May 7, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Susan Dee

Aboard NOAA Henry B. Bigelow

May 23- June 7, 2018

Mission:  Spring Ecosystem Monitoring Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise:  Northeastern Coast U.S.

Date: May 7, 2018

Personal Log

If I was to describe myself in one word it would be a thalassophile- a lover of the sea. So when I got accepted to the NOAA Teacher at Sea program, I was totally overwhelmed with excitement. What a great adventure!  From my younger days boating on Long Island Sound in NY to the present day boating on the waterways  around Hilton Head, SC, I have always been drawn to the sea.

Susan on a boat in salt marsh

Me in my Happy Place

In college, I studied biology and education and first taught middle school science.  Then slowly over the years, my passion for the ocean evolved into teaching Environmental Studies and then to teaching Marine Science.  Not being a native southerner, I  took many professional development classes to learn about the unique lowcountry local marine ecosystem along the coastline of South Carolina. The county I now live in, Beaufort County, is 50% saltwater tidal marsh and borders on the Atlantic Ocean.  The marine ecosystem plays a large role in the community.  I presently teach at May River High School, in Bluffton, SC, and appropriately the mascot is a SHARK!   Because we live in a marine environment, teaching students about their sense of place is extremely important. Student take part in numerous field trips directly exploring the local ecosystem – visits to maritime centers, beaches and kayaking on the rivers.   In teaching Marine Science, my goal is to instill in my students knowledge of and love and respect for their beautiful home marine environment.

Lowcountry, SC

Lowcountry, SC

Bluffton, SC Oyster Factory Park

Bluffton, SC Oyster Factory Park

I am a single mother of two adult daughters and their visits include many adventures on the water. Volunteering in local beach /river cleanups and recycling programs is important to me.  After listening to citizens concerns about the local environment, I am so proud to live in a county that recently implemented a plastic bag ban in all grocery stores beginning in October. Being an activist in local environmental causes is important to me.

Kids in Kayaks Program
Kids in Kayaks Program
River Clean Up

River Clean Up

Susan's Daughters on river

Daughters , Alyssa (center) and Deirdre (right), on river at Christmas

I am so excited to partake on this TAS adventure, to work with real scientists, gathering real data, to bring back to my classroom .  Aboard the Henry B. Bigelow, a NOAA state of the art research vessel, I will work along scientists collecting data on the hydrographic, planktonic and pelagic components of the northeast Atlantic.  In two weeks, my journey into the Northern Atlantic Ocean will begin! Leaving 9 days before the end of school, my students will end of year test and graduate without me present. But we will be connected as they follow my experience at sea through the wonders of technology!

 

school logo

Love My SHARKS!

 

 

 

 

Heather O’Connell: Excited and Eager for Imminent Exploration, April 26, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Heather O’Connell

NOAA Ship Rainier

June 11 -22, 2018

Mission: Hydrographic Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: North Coast of Kodiak Island, Alaska

Date: 04/26/18

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude 19.6400° N

Longitude 155.9969° W

The current weather in Kona, Hawaii on the Big Island is 86 degrees Fahrenheit with 59% humidity. Winds from the west are coming in at 6 miles per hour or 5.2 knots as we will say on the ship. It is mostly sunny with a 20 % chance of rain.

Personal Log and Introduction

My fascination with the intricacies of the human body led me to pursue biochemistry and earn a bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College in 2002. While I enjoyed analyzing pharmaceuticals for Pfizer and conducting sleep research with Weill Cornell Medical College, I missed the social aspects of a profession. This prompted me to pursue teaching and I received a Master’s Degree in Education from Pace University in 2007.

I began teaching at a small private school in Westchester County, New York, where I taught both middle school and high school science and founded a Habitat for Humanity club and traveled to Nicaragua with a group of students to build homes for the community.  My love of hands on tasks and community service made this an enriching endeavor.

Eight years ago, my adventurous spirit transported me from Long Island, NY to Maui, Hawaii, where I shared my enthusiasm for science with students while exploring the vast terrain, plant life and coral reefs. My next adventure brought me to Hilo on the Big Island where I was part of an enriching professional development program, Ku’Aina Pa, that taught about gardening and culture. Here is where I met my friend Ben who told me about West Hawaii Explorations Academy, W.H.E.A., an outdoor science project based school with a shark lagoon. I never knew charter schools like this existed!

I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the W.H.E.A. high school team for the past five years, where I advise science projects, teach Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus and an after school Chemistry class. I advise an Urchin Survey project where we monitor the population of urchins at a Marine Life Conservation District and I love providing the opportunity for students to collect real data.  We have access to deep ocean water which students have used for cold agriculture projects in the past and more recently to precipitate O.R.M. (orbitally realigned molecules) to use as a fertilizer. Some of my favorite parts about my job are learning alongside students, as I knew nothing about plumbing a marine tank before W.H.E.A., and working with such a great team! When I am teaching students how to be stewards of the land through the lens of science and math, I feel as if I am pursuing my passion in life and it fulfills me greatly.

WHEA Urchin Survey

Freshman conducting an urchin survey for their research paper.

I participated in the Ethnomathematics and STEM Institute last year, where I learned to teach math through a cultural lens with environmental service work. I was inspired by a group of amazing colleagues and met Christina who told me about the NOAA Teacher at Sea opportunity. Since I love experiential learning, I eagerly completed the application and am thrilled to be embarking on this amazing opportunity.

Hikianalia Sail Picture

Cohort 9 of Ethnomathematics and STEM Institute on Oahu

I am passionate about teaching and developing culturally relevant projects that instill a sense of wonder and I seek out soul nourishing experiences like Ku’Aina Pa and the Ethnomathematics and STEM Institute.  I am certain that the Teacher at Sea program will provide a profound, enriching experience that will allow me to develop meaningful curriculum to share with students and fellow educators, while allowing me to grow personally.

When I’m not utilizing my enthusiasm and creativity to instill students with curiosity and responsibility to make a more sustainable future, I enjoy exploring the beautiful Big Island by backpacking or hiking to some of its exotic locations. I also enjoy long distance running, beach yoga, any activity in or around the ocean and cooking nourishing meals.

Kona Sunset

Spectacular Kona sunset…one of my favorite parts of the day

Did you know?

Lo’ihi is the new volcanic island of Hawaii that is forming 20 miles Southeast of the Big Island. This seamount formed from volcanic activity over the hot spot currently rises 10,100 feet off of the ocean floor but is still 3,100 feet from the surface of the water.

 

Jennifer Dean: Getting Ready, April 23, 2018

 

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Jennifer Dean

Aboard NOAA Ship Pisces

May 12 – May 24, 2018

Mission: Conduct ROV and multibeam sonar surveys inside and outside six marine protected areas (MPAs) and the Oculina Experimental Closed Area (OECA) to assess the efficacy of this management tool to protect species of the snapper grouper complex and Oculina coral

Geographic Area of Cruise: Continental shelf edge of the South Atlantic Bight between Port Canaveral, FL and Cape Hatteras, NC

Date: April 23rd, 2018

Personal Log

Welcome to my first blog entry as I prepare for an amazing opportunity with the NOAA Teacher at Sea program.  I am a science teacher at Camas High School, a public school of a little over 2000 students.  Camas is a rapidly growing suburb of Vancouver, located across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon.  In my 22nd year of teaching, my current assignments include environmental science, anatomy and physiology and forensic science.  I love to involve my students in authentic investigations, from building a sustainable farm on school property to designing and building solar ovens. I incorporate project-based learning opportunities and authentic long-term investigations whenever possible.  I helped develop and implement our STEM-based magnet program, and I continue to help guide improvements to the program. To be sure I am teaching relevant and up-to-date content and skills, I need to have my own experiences with authentic scientific research.

Jennifer Dean and family

My daughters, Emma and Kalena, enjoying an early morning walk at Mike’s Beach Resort at Hood Canal

I applied to this program because of my love for the process of scientific investigations and my desire to share this unique experience with students.  I want to increase my knowledge of fisheries and am especially interested in bringing to my classroom new learnings about STEM career opportunities at NOAA.   My goal with all my students is to teach the tools for scientific literacy, how to use evidence and reasoning in evaluating claims and to be able to communicate science

Jennifer and poster

Sharing science at the annual Partners in Science January conference in San Diego

to others.

I am currently in full list-making mode, trying to make sure I will remember the Dramamine, several layers of clothing and a dozen other things.  However, my mind drifts back to wondering about what science knowledge and technology skills I will be called upon to use

I love the water.  I love scuba diving, kayaking and the paddle boarding I tried with my daughters for the first time this summer.  I have four children—2 boys in college and 2 girls still at home.  During vacations, we often migrate toward the water to explore a stream bed or the sandy shores of the Pacific.

Jennifer in wet suit

I need 7 mm layers to stay in the water long on our coast

On May 12th I will be boarding NOAA Ship Pisces off the coast of Florida to assess the efficacy of the marine protected areas (MPAs) in protecting species of the snapper grouper complex and Oculina coral.  ROV and multibeam sonar surveys will be used inside and outside the MPAs and in the Oculina Experimental Closed Area (OECA) in the south Atlantic to gather data on habitat and fish resources.  This research will help fishery managers make decisions on the areas future use and how to best protect these valuable resources.

Did You Know?

President Theodore Roosevelt established the first MPA and the first National Wildlife Refuge in the United States, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in 1903.

Fact or Fiction?

Aquaculture uses more wild fish than it produces.

To find out the evidence that rejects or supports that claim visit NOAA Fisheries site at the following link

https://www.fishwatch.gov/sustainable-seafood/faqs

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Cindy Byers: Off to Alaska! April 15, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Cindy Byers
Aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
April 29 – May 13, 2018

Mission: Southeast Alaska Hydrographic Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Southeast, Alaska

Date: April 15, 2018

Introduction

In two weeks I will be embarking on my first ocean science experience aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather.  After having several friends become “Teachers at Sea,” I just knew that I wanted to have this experience so I could become a better ocean educator and bring this knowledge back to my students.

I am a seventh and eighth grade teacher from Rosholt Middle School, a small school district in rural Wisconsin.  Our pre-Kindergarten through 12 grade building has 650 students.  As a middle school teacher my duties include earth science, health, language and reading.  I also work with small groups of gifted students two hours a day.  It makes me flexibility and a “jack of all trades” as they say.

My real passion is science and environmental education, and I have found ways to teach my other subjects often using these as topics.

My students would tell you I like boats and working with scientists!  I have spent time working with Sea Grant on the Great Lakes.  Sea Grant is a network that is a partnership between 33 university-based programs and NOAA.  They are in every coastal and Great Lakes state.  I have attended and taught workshops for teachers through Sea Grant. In 2011, at the invitation of Sea Grant, I spent 9 days on Lake Superior with 16 other teachers and 3 scientists aboard the Environmental Protection Agency’s R/V Lake Guardian studying near and offshore environments.

In 2016, I was aboard Wisconsin’s Flagship, Denis Sullivan , with Sea Grant and a group of teachers on a six day journey up Lake Michigan and across Lake Superior.  This is the same tall ship that my seventh grade students sail on each fall.

 

 

I am so excited to be working on an ocean vessel.  I have always dreamed of going to Alaska, and I can not think of a better way to do it.

I will be on a hydrographic survey to collect data that will be used to produce maps for safe navigation. The instruments onboard include multibeam echosounders and side sonar that work to image the ocean floor.  Four small boats are also used to set up tide measuring stations. The data is also used for other scientific and environmental prediction purposes such as tsunami displacement measurements and mapping of fish habitat.

NOAA Ship Fairweather

NOAA Ship Fairweather (Courtesy of NOAA)

I am very excited to share how all of the science equipment is used and how the data is organized.  I would like to find a way to have my students be involved in science labs that use some of the techniques and data used by the scientists on the ship.  I would also like to learn more about careers in NOAA that some of my students may be interested in pursuing!

 

Did you know?

NOAA’s mission is: Science, Service and Stewardship

1. To understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts;

2. To share that knowledge and information with others; and

3. To conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.

 

 

 

Tom Jenkins: Introductory Post, April 6, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Tom Jenkins

Aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow

April 10 – 27, 2018

Mission: Spring Bottom Trawl Survey

Geographic Area: Northeastern U.S. Coast

Date: April 6, 2018

Introduction

Now that word is out about my NOAA Teacher at Sea selection, I am being asked many questions about my upcoming research mission.  The truth of the matter is that I am unsure exactly what to expect. While the administrators of the program have done a great job of communicating information, NOAA has many different objectives.  Even the missions, which are annual events, appear to be unique experiences as there are so many variables involved when doing research at sea.

One thing I know for sure is that almost 3 weeks out at sea seems like a long time, especially for someone that has lived in Ohio for his entire life.  Clark County, Ohio (where I teach 8th Grade Science and STEM at Greenon Jr./Sr. High School) is probably what most people think of when they think of “Midwestern living.” A mixture of agriculture and fading industry, we are a close-knit community, which is something John Cougar Mellencamp would find familiar.  While we have plenty of creeks and lakes, many of my students have never seen the ocean. I have been fortunate enough to go on a handful of cruises, but have never been at sea for more than 10 consecutive days, and those included stops along the way.  I am fairly confident I will do fine, but I am also packing motion sickness medication to be on the safe side. Fingers crossed!

Greenon Jr/Sr High School

Greenon Jr/Sr High School

I will live aboard the NOAA research vessel Henry Bigelow (Follow this link for additional information).  This 209 feet long, state-of-the-art, research vessel is likely a giant step up from what you may have seen on “Deadliest Catch.”  While it is definitely built for collecting fish and other biomass, it conducts trawl sampling (think of a long, specialized net that is dragged behind the ship).  NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow is equipped with many advanced features including a modern wet lab which allows scientists (and me!) to sort, weigh, measure, and examine the catch.  This information is then added to NOAA’s extensive database which provides our country’s scientists with valuable information regarding the status of the organisms that reside within the ocean.

downloadfile

NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow

Another question that I am frequently asked is, “What about your students?”  The best part about this arrangement is, not only will I be immersed in authentic scientific research (which will add value to my educational practice), but the use of Google Classroom will allow my students to share my adventures from the field.  In addition to frequent online updates where I will answer questions and discuss ongoing research and associated phenomena, my students will use NOAA educational resources to learn more about our oceans and the life within them.

As I prepare to leave in a few days, I am full of emotion.  I am obviously very excited to be afforded this unique opportunity.  I love travel, adventure, and learning, so this research cruise will be a perfect fit.  I will work alongside 37 people (sailors, fisherman, scientists, and engineers to name a few) who are very good at what they do for a living.  I can’t wait to pick their brains to learn how I can incorporate their knowledge into my classroom. All of that being said, I will definitely miss both my family and my students.  I look forward to returning home and sharing my experiences with them.

Please check back over the next few weeks as I will write additional blogs regarding my NOAA Teacher at Sea adventure.  I would love to make this blog series interactive, so if you have any questions, please post them in the comments section below.

Kate Schafer: Off to the Gulf, September 16, 2017

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Kate Schafer

Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II

September 17 – 30, 2017

Mission: Shark/Red Snapper Longline Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico

Date: September 16, 2017

Introduction

Welcome to my Teacher at Sea blog!  My name is Kate Schafer, and I am a teacher at the Upper School at the Harker School in San Jose, California, right in the middle of Silicon Valley.  I teach biology, marine biology and food science to mostly juniors and seniors.  This may seem like an odd mix of courses, but I am so fortunate to be able to teach students about all my favorite topics.  I have heard that the food is delicious on the Oregon II, and I’m interested in learning more about the challenges of keeping a crew fed when you can’t pop down to the corner grocery store when you realize that you forgot to order that crucial ingredient.  I have spent many hours on the ocean, and spent six years studying coral reefs in Belize, Central America, but I’ve never been to sea on a research vessel.  I’m thrilled to have that opportunity and to share it with my students.

My husband, daughter and I ready to tour the Atlantis in Woods Hole, MA this summer

Weather Data

The weather has been a big topic of conversation of late here in San Jose.  Two weekends ago set all-time record high temperatures throughout the Bay Area, even along the coast.  Living in close proximity to the ocean, we expect relief from that rare hot day to come rather quickly, but the heat lingered for days.  We’re back to normal fall weather as I head off, though.  This morning is cool and seasonable.  I know from growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, that I’m heading to warm and humid conditions on the other end of my travels.

Science and Technology Log

On this research cruise, we will be conducting long line surveys, looking at shark and red snapper populations in the Gulf of Mexico.  I will report more on where we are going and what we’re studying once the leg of the survey begins. There are multiple legs to the survey, and I’ll be joining in for the fourth and final leg.  It has been a tumultuous time in the Gulf over the past few weeks, and it will be interesting to learn about how this has impacted the coastal waters in the area we will be surveying.

Personal Log

I am sitting in the airport in San Jose, ready to board my flight to Dallas, en route to Gulfport and my final destination of Pascagoula, Mississippi.  Wow! It’s been a frantic week of getting all sorts of last minute pieces put together to allow things to, hopefully, run smoothly in my absence.  It’s early morning, so I’m still in a bit of a groggy cloud, making the fact that I’m actually heading off on this adventure all the more unreal.

Even the grogginess cannot stifle my excitement, though, as I head off for two weeks of working with scientists and collecting data.  As I was packing last night, I couldn’t help but be reminded of all the previous trips I packed for more than 15 years ago to conduct field research on coral reefs in Belize.  I was studying a type of crustacean called the stomatopod and learning about the role that they play in coral reef ecosystems, how they interact with other species like pygmy octopus and crabs, their main source of prey.

I am thrilled to be heading out on this research trip and feel so fortunate for the opportunity.  I look forward to questions from you about what we are doing and learning on our voyage.  Check in frequently for updated blog posts once the trip commences.

Did You Know?

That the Oregon II has been part of the NOAA fleet since 1977?

Chelsea O’Connell-Barlow: Get ready, get set, SAIL!!! August 26, 2017

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Chelsea O’Connell-Barlow

Aboard NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada

August 28 – September 13, 2017

 

Mission:  Pacific Hake Survey – Leg V

Geographic Area of Cruise:  Northwest Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Washington

Date:  August 26, 2017

 

Weather from the Bridge…or Backyard

At home in Decatur, GA we are celebrating a weekend break in the humidity.  The sun is shining and the sky is filling with a variety of imagination provoking Cumulus clouds.

Latitude:  33.767782

Longitude:  -84.299283

Wind Speed: 6mph

Wind Direction:  E

On Monday I will travel 2,759 miles to Port Angeles, WA where I will board the Bell M. Shimada.  I look forward to cooler temperatures and the invigorating salty air.

 

Science and Technology Log:

I have yet to meet the scientists and crew of the Shimada so I have no first hand info to share.  However this is a great opportunity to introduce the main focus of this survey… Merluccius productus, Pacific Hake.

Pacific Hake or Pacific Whiting (photo courtesy of http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/)

(photo courtesy of http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/)

Pacific Hake is an important species to both humans and many species in the marine ecosystem off of the Pacific Northwest coast of both the United States and Canada.  There is a cooperative effort to manage these fish that involves the governments of both the U.S. and Canada, fisheries scientists and fisherman.  Such a collaboration and intentional effort  amongst so many groups is a great model and example for other issues at large.  Here is some background reading related to the Pacific Hake Survey.

Personal Log:

I have taught middle school science at Renfroe Middle School (RMS) in the City Schools of Decatur for 10 years.  Renfroe is full of wonderfully intelligent, thoughtful and supportive people – students and staff.  Currently, I work with 7th grade students as we explore ecology, evolution, genetics, cells and anatomy.  I am thrilled to have this adventure at sea to share with my students and friends.  I look forward to bringing back real-world research and developing curriculum that we can ALL benefit from.

As an inquisitive and adrenaline hungry person I love the combination of adventure and challenging work, so I am thinking that my time on the Bell M. Shimada may be about as ideal of a learning opportunity as I could imagine. In addition to being a classroom teacher at RMS, I also work as a Mentor in The Nature Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program. LEAF provides an opportunity for Mentors and Interns to spend an intensive month focused on all aspects of conservation. This program encourages all involved towards hands-on environmental stewardship experiences and to broaden the boundaries of our comfort zone.  For both my RMS students and LEAF mentees I take this Teacher At Sea opportunity to put into action the message that I often share with them…learning is a life long goal and risk-taking is a way to enhance the connection that you feel with the world.

I want to thank my colleagues and students for a heart warming send-off and I promise all plenty of awesome photos and updates to come.

Teacher At Sea RMS send-off

A lovely RMS bon voyage complete with oodles of creative & pun filled cards.

 

Did you know?

According to Atlas Obscura, in 1914 the town of Port Angeles had such an issue with sewage flooding that they opted to raise one of the town’s main streets by 10-14 feet.  This engineering challenge was accomplished by moving soil from a neighboring hill completely by hand…no mechanical interventions.  To this day you can tour the underground areas and see store fronts frozen in time.  This lovely seaside town is where I will embark on my voyage.