Final Reflections from Teacher at Sea…

Debra Brice, 2011 Teacher at Sea

Last night we crossed the entire front and took over 14 plankton tows and CTDs , we started about 6:30pm and sampled until around 6am.  It was busy in the lab and on deck, but the data was very cool!! It was a successful cruise.  The chief scientists were all pleased that we finished all stations and experiments. They were psyched that we met all the science goals, had no injuries, no equipment losses or major damage. The

Jon Chan processing samples

undergrad students had a wonderful time, learned a lot and many of them told me they are considering changing their majors to something in marine biology or oceanography.  The graduate students were all enthusiastic and it was interesting speaking to them about their Phd programs and where they hope to be and study in the future.   Last night as we were surveying across the 'Front' before we sampled, we ran across a group of Fin whales feeding right on the 'Front'.  The plankton samples in the middle of the front were just thick with zooplankton, so it was easy to see what the whales were interested in.

Dave Faber and Mike Roberto with Seasoar

It was a wonderful cruise, so interesting to see all the different scientists from different but related fields collecting different data and putting it together to form a clearer and consistent picture of an ecosystem.  I learned many new experimental and collection techniques,  more about processes within this coastal ecosystem. I am really looking forward to sharing the experience with my students and introducing them to different aspects of oceanography and climate change as well as careers in science.  I am bringing back some samples for my class from the plankton tows and Oozeki tows, some neat hatchet fish, pyrosomes and a jar of plankton from one of the bongos so they can look at copepods and krill from this area. As a teacher it was a unique experience to be able to work with the scientists and participate in the collection of data and specimens for a long term research project, have the opportunity to speak with leading scientists in the field of climate research and oceanography while they are doing the research.  I think it has given me a better feel for what is happening in the field in science today and be able to take that back to my students to share.  I will be using my experiences and the data to create more realistic labs and lessons for my students and be able to relate these experiments to real research being done in the field, thus showing my students how what we do in the classroom really does mirror what is happening in the real world. I am hoping this experience is helping me to answer that age old student question: “ Why do we have to learn this stuff?" and “ Will we ever use this stuff?”
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