NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
June 20 – July 3, 2022
Mission: SEAMAP Summer Groundfish Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: May 13, 2022
Welcome to my blog!
Welcome to the inaugural post of my blog, describing my observations and reflections as a NOAA Teacher at Sea on my upcoming expedition in June 2022. My name is George Hademenos and I am excited to invite you along on this field trip of a lifetime to learn about marine science and the research that will be conducted during the research cruise. This is a particularly momentous occasion as this experience has been two years in the making (Dang that COVID!) – more on the application process, the NOAA Teacher at Sea program, and the instructional possibilities that this program presents will follow in upcoming posts.
Before I go any further, I want to take this opportunity to address the 800-lb sea lion in the room. The “sea lion” I am referring to is the title of the blog. “I am (George Hademenos, NOAA Teacher at Sea), I Said.” is a rather peculiar title for a blog entry and I did want to take this opportunity to explain the rationale for this title and set the stage for the blog entries to follow.
I have always loved music not only for the melodies but also for the lyrics that draw the listener into a story. Music has played an important part of my life not only as a hobby but also as a job. Beginning in high school and continuing through college, I was an announcer at radio stations in my hometown of San Angelo, Texas, the West Texas city that I grew up in. My love of music combined with my love of talking (which greatly prepared me for the classroom) made this an ideal job for me. Below is a picture of me at one of these radio stations that I worked at, KGKL.
In any event, returning to the blog title discussion, I decided to incorporate this time in my life into my current experience by titling this blog entry (as well as every other blog title that follows) with the exact title (or a modified title) of a recorded song. What better way to begin a blog than with Neil Diamond!
With that explanation out of the way, I would like to use this first blog entry to introduce myself, explain why a high school physics teacher in Texas is interested in marine science and, most importantly, provide details about my cruise assignment as well as ways you can learn more about my expedition and marine science, in general. I am currently in my 21st year of teaching physics at Richardson High School in Richardson, Texas, a suburb north of Dallas.
I know that physics often gets a bad reputation among high school students as being hard, involving math, and quite frankly a class that they are forced to take. And these students would be correct on all counts. However, I often tell my classes at the beginning of each school year, “the reason I love teaching physics is that each of you experience physics on a daily basis and I do not have to think long and hard to come up with examples and applications of every topic and concept covered in class that directly impact your life.” I know that if I am successful in this regard, then perhaps my students might actually grow to tolerate and some maybe to even enjoy physics.
How did I end up in the classroom?
When I graduated from high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to be but I knew what I didn’t want to be… a teacher. I did not want or even entertain the notion of a career as a teacher. What makes this even more astounding is that everyone in my family were teachers, except me. My dad was the Education Department chair at the university I attended but I still was not interested. I wanted to pursue a career in medical research. Following my pursuit of advanced degrees in physics, two postdoctoral fellowships (one in nuclear medicine and another in neuroradiology), and a career as a staff scientist for stroke at the American Heart Association, I lived my dream but realized it was impacting my reality. My wife, Kelly, and I have a daughter, Alexandra, who always loved school and invested her time in any and all extracurricular activities she could possibly handle. My time was invested in activities that required my direct attention such as meetings, conferences, grants and drafting manuscripts for publication and not activities that I wanted to focus on such as attending recitals, performances, parent-teacher conferences and help with homework.
I understand that there are priorities in life and for me, they finally came into focus. I decided to change careers – change into the one career I thought I would never pursue – teaching. Twenty years later, I still have not regretted the move. So, what am I like in the classroom? The video below gives you a snapshot of what it is like to have me as a teacher.
Why marine science?
One thing you will come to learn about me through my blog postings is that I am a teacher who not only loves to teach but also, first and foremost, loves to learn. I am always looking for novel, innovative, and creative approaches to instructional activities, experiences, and projects that I can engage my students with, as well as share these approaches with other teachers. When a program such as NOAA Teacher at Sea comes about with opportunities for teachers to learn about marine science and “walk a mile in the shoes” of researchers, teachers like me jump at the chance to apply and hopefully are selected for such an honor.
I will be a participant on NOAAS Oregon II for Leg 2 of the SEAMAP Summer Groundfish Survey where I will be working with and learning from Andre J. Debose, Chief Scientist with NOAA Fisheries Service and his research team based in Pascagoula, MS. I am beyond ready for my Teacher at Sea cruise where I plan to pursue the following two objectives: (1) to share my knowledge and experiences of this journey with you through a blog and a Google Site and (2) initiate and contribute to a dialogue about the importance of planning, collecting, and evaluating surveys of shrimp, groundfish, plankton, and reef fish, conducted in the Gulf of Mexico, that you in turn can share with your students and colleagues.
More information regarding the cruise will follow in subsequent blog posts prior to and during the cruise (if the internet is behaving). I hope that you will not only read the blog posts but ask questions ranging from the Teacher at Sea program to the cruise details to the ship NOAAS Oregon II to the research conducted aboard the vessel to ways you can learn more marine science (or if you are a teacher, to design instructional activities to engage your students in marine science). I may not know the answers to all of your questions but rest assured that, if I do not know how to respond to a particular question, I will let you know and take steps to find a prompt and factual response. I would like to make this journey a positive learning experience for everyone!