NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard US Coast Guard Ship Healy
April 20 – May 15, 2007
Mission: Bering Sea Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Alaska
Date: April 28, 2007
St Paul. The other Pribilof Island. Stormy seas were forecasted. To the Coast Guard it was all about safety. To Robyn and me it was all about getting there and back. We had a presentation scheduled for the school from 11-12:30. We wanted to connect with the community.
St. Paul is larger than St. George. The helicopter was an efficient way to transport people off the boat (those who were going home) and pick up people coming to the boat (those scientists who were joining our adventure). Robyn, David Doucet (air safety manager) and I were the first flight out. Robyn and I were very excited and nervous at the same time.
Up and off we flew, 6 miles from the ship to the airport over the freezing cold Bering Sea. One minute on the ship, blink twice, we were landing safely at the airport in St. Paul. Tonia Kushin, teacher from St. Paul and I had been in contact with each other since late March. We wanted to bring her students culture to my students’ culture and make a meaningful connection. She took us on a tour of St. Paul, and then took us to her school. Both Robyn and I took in her tour like a sponge.
It was a wonderful time! We were set up in the library, a most fantastic place to learn. Surrounded by student-made kayaks, a seal skeleton, and many antique photos from the olden time, we began our introductions.
Our education activity stations were a hit. I think the one the students enjoyed most was getting into and out of the MS 900 suit and bunny boots.
We talked to the audience about marine mammals, then broke into activity stations, then were treated to a celebration of dance.
She told me that the dancing group is getting smaller and younger with each passing year. Seems many teenagers are no longer interested in learning the Aleut ways. I understood what she said. It is difficult to compete with video games and the internet. I see some of my students in Hawaii making those same choices.
Before we knew it, it was time to go. The wind had picked up considerably and we needed to leave the school, WIKI WIKI!
We said a hurried good-bye, and left St. Paul behind. I left the island with a treasure trove of memories, and a stack of Styrofoam cups for the St. Paul students experiment “Down to the Deep.”
That kinda says it all for me. This experience is all about science and making cultural connections. It is all one ocean, one voice, one earth.