Midpark High School students go back in time for microfossils

Midpark High School biology students have traveled back in time to investigate microfossils of the Santa Barbara basin. Thanks goes out to Mindi Summers and her Cal-Echoes team for allowing students all the way in northeast Ohio the opportunity to connect with the marine environment.  Unfortunately it’s not an opportunity we consistently have.

Our Midpark students, following a protocol designed by Dr. Dick Norris  Professor of Paleobiology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, were given the opportunity to search for and identify fossils from the depths of the basin. The thrill of the hunt was obvious from the start. I was a bit hesitant about how enthusiastic my students would be about  going elbow deep in muck. As soon as those first anxious students dove in, everyone was hooked. To my surprise it was the student’s I least expected to get enthralled in the lab that truly did.

One of the most important aspects of science education for me is to create experiences that students would otherwise miss or never experience. It’s so important to pull back the curtains of science for our students to see what’s “back there.”  Those moments are ones that I don’t forget, and certainly our students don’t either. It is, in fact, those moments when a student falls in love with science, sees the world a little different,  passion to want to know about the world start to grow and maybe starts a path for their future . I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to give my students yet another way for those interests, and passions to start to grow.

I want to personally thank those involved for allowing this to happen, and helping connect the world to my students. I’ve included a small video below that shows our students in action during the microfossils lab.

Collecting Microfossils Video

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Lesson Plans!

New lesson plans have been added!  The graduate students and teachers that were onboard have developed great activities, and more are coming.  Please check them out on the lesson plan page or within each of the daily learning themes.  Some fun lessons include: What floats your boat?  Mollusc adaptations, Mud Explorations, and designing your own Zooplankton.

A new video has also been posted by Bob Caliguiri of Mission Bay High School.  It includes highlights of the cruise and great shots of us at work.  You can find it on the Video! page.

Please feel free to post or email us any questions and ideas from the video or lesson plans.  Also, if you are incorporating any of our themes or lessons in your classroom, please let us know how it is going!

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CalEchoes Events Around San Diego

In the past few months, graduate students from the cruise have been having a lot of fun visiting local classrooms around San Diego and will even be going to some schools’ science fairs.  Please feel free to email us if you would like a visit or to skype!

Upcoming places to meet us and learn more about the cruise:

February 19          Birch Aquarium at Scripps, SEA days 11am-3pm  (http://www.aquarium.ucsd.edu/)

March 5               Expanding Youth Horizons (EYH)-San Diego Conference (http://www.eyhsandiego.org)  — Mindi will co-presenting a workshop talking about deep sea worms

March 26                San Diego Science and Engineering Festival (http://www.sdsciencefestival.com/) — Mindi will be at “Ask me, I’m a scientist” booth from 10-12am; Teachers and graduate students will also have a booth at the UCSD GK12 table

April 16                   UCSD Green Open House, 10am-3pm

Looking forward to seeing you at some of these great events!

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Skyping follow-up

Yesterday most of the second period CPE class participated in a teleconference with Mindi. Due to the epic snowstorm that swept most of the country, we weren’t sure that we would be able to make this happen, thanks to cancelation of school due to snow days.

Everything came together,however, and it was bright sunlight streaming through the windows of Mindi’s
apartment that greeted us as we connected via skype.

The purpose of this skyping session was to hear, four months out, the results of the research that the scientists have done, and to get a first-hand debriefing from the organizer of the cruise. A secondary goal was for the students to get feedback from Mindi about their student-created videos that they had developed and shot, after researching and learning about various aspects of the Calechoes cruise and its scientists.

The session did not disappoint. After a brief introduction, a conversation and evaluation about the various aspects of the videos, both entertaining and educational, ensued. T-Payne’s On a Boat was mentioned briefly, and while we couldn’t get Mindi to pick a favorite student video, she highlighted the aspects of each video that she and her crew enjoyed.

Next came the student-created questions, covering everything from sea-sickness remedies to core mud samplings. While much of the research is still being processed and therefore results weren’t available to share with the class, the students did get some of their questions answered about bacterial mats, worms, and other samples that were taken during the cruise.

One of the most valuable pieces of information came from Mindi’s suggestion to the students about following their passions to find their life’s work. She encouraged them to explore their options and the world around them, and
to be open to different experiences and where they might lead.

Thanks Mindi, for taking the time to skype with the students! It was a nice opportunity to have a virtual “face-to-face” experience, and get the student
thinking again about the science behind the cruise.

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Summer camp is over

The team preps some cups to go down deep

3/4 of the infamous singing anglers

Thus ends our scientific journey aboard the Melville, all that is left to do is clean up and go home. Samples are labeled, inventoried, and lashed down for the ~18hr boat ride home. The tables have been mostly cleared of our scopes and computers, the lab is quickly emptying. The photos are being piled higher and higher (10 gigs and growing) and seriously need a little sorting (delete the duplicates and the blurry ones!).

In a way this reminds me of a summer camp. We came from different places, we made new friends, ate together, bunked together, sang together, hauled together, killed together, sorted together, laughed together, and now we return to our separate offices and institutions. For a great many of us, this was our first and possibly last time on a research vessel. It has been undeniably unforgettable, and despite the fair amount of heavy grunt work it went incredibly fast.

Hopefully my time here turns into something for my work as a senior graduate student and helps me inspire the future of society as a teaching fellow at Helix High School. That’s aiming high but at least I know that I had a hell of a good time and can wear my R/V Melville hat and call myself a seafaring Marine Biologist with relative pride. I came, saw, shrank some cups, collected some livers, helped shoot some video and pull some tag lines. What more could I ask for more?

Beautiful sunrise after a long Night

Part of the Night-Watch gets ready

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Last Day at Sea- Diana Tucker

The cruise is coming to an end. We had our last educator’s meeting this evening. Tomorrow we pack up, clean up and prepare to unload the boat. The transit back to San Diego will take 14 hours. With any luck I will have a little bit of time to check out the San Diego area before getting on a plane headed to Ohio Monday morning. Hopefully I will not find myself in the position of explaining to a security officer at the airport that the unidentified brownish substance in 4 Ziploc bags and some duct tape is indeed only 1,700 year old mud.Not suspicious at all, It is a souvenir of sorts for my students and a chance to let them discover how scientists can sift through the goop to find ancient scales and pieces of sea creatures. A chance for them to try their hand at using those clues to put together the puzzle of past life and ecosystems.
Anyway, what a voyage! I have learned such so much and met so many interesting people.What a great experience for my students to get to see how this machine we call science works to churn out more and more information; more and more understanding. I hope this adventure may inspire a few to follow their inquiring minds into the uncharted territory of unique research. What amazing adventures lie ahead for those that chose to question and explore.
Tonight we all wrote haiku’s about our lives here at sea. this was mine:

“rolling, changing on
liquid life diversity
spun from common thread”

What a grand adventure and a look into worlds so small and strange. How often do we get a view of the past and reflect on the fact that the we humans have been a part of this amazing Earth for just a glimpse of it’s vast history? Here’s to hope that we can still yet figure out how to become her stewards so that these incredible creatures can continue to roll and change on……….

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My Final Night At Sea(for now) – Daniel Conley

As we prepare for our final night on the R/V Melville I find my self on the aft deck reflecting on the week past. As I look out over the water and see the now customary raft of sea lions following along side the ship, I wonder how well I will sleep in my own bed with out the constant lulling of the boat to comfort me. I also wonder about how I will adjust to not have three overly fantastic meals prepared fresh for me daily. This past week has been wonderful in all regards. From the new friends I’ve made to the seafaring knowledge I’ve gained, this has truly been a voyage to remember.

Daniel Conley

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