NOAA Teacher at Sea
(Almost) On Board NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
June 10 – 19, 2015
Mission: Cetacean and Turtle Research
Geographic area of Cruise: North Atlantic
Date: June 2, 2015
Greetings from Western NC. My name is Tom Savage, and I am a Science teacher at the Henderson County Early College in Flat Rock, NC. I currently teach Chemistry, Earth Science, Biology and Physical Science. In a few days I will be flying to Rhode Island and boarding NOAA ship Henry B. Bigelow, a research vessel. We will be traveling in the North Atlantic region, mostly in Georges Bank which is located east of Cape Cod and the Islands. The research mission will focus on two types of whales: Sei and Beaked Whales. Our primary goals will be photo-ID and biopsy collection, acoustic recording, and prey sampling. I am looking forward to learning about the marine life and ocean ecosystem, and I look forward to sharing this knowledge with my students.
This will not be the first time that I have been out to sea. A few years ago, I spent a week with eighteen other science teachers from across the county, scuba diving within the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. This week long program was sponsored by the Gulf of Mexico Foundation and NOAA. This exceptional professional development provided an opportunity to explore, photograph and develop lesson plans with a focus on coral reefs. I also learned about how important the Gulf of Mexico is to the oil industry. I had the opportunity to dive under an abandoned oil platform and discovered the rich, abundant animal life and how these structures improve the fish population.
Prior to becoming a teacher, I worked as a park ranger at many national parks including the Grand Canyon, Glacier and Acadia. Working at these national treasures was wonderful and very beneficial to my teaching.
Providing young adults with as many experiences and career possibilities is the hallmark of my teaching. During the year, I arrange a “Discover SCUBA” at the local YMCA. Students who have participated in this have gone on to become certified. In the fall I have offered “Discover Flying” at a local airport, sponsored by the “Young Eagles” program. Here students fly around our school and community witnessing their home from the air. A few students have gone on to study various aviation careers.
I am very excited in learning about the many career opportunities that are available on NOAA research vessels. It would be very rewarding to see a few of my students become employed with the NOAA Corps or follow a career in science due to this voyage.