Pre-Cruise Blog from Teacher at Sea, Steve Walters

In less than 24 hours the research vessel the R/V Melville will be leaving San Diego and headed for the Santa Barbara Basin. To say that I’m excited to be involved with this cruise would be a bit of an understatement. This past week students, staff, and parents have been asking me a million questions about the cruise. It just so happens that our open house was this past Wednesday and the majority of the time I was answering questions about the research that would be done on the boat. The parents were getting excited that their students would be able to experience every thing about the cruise. Some of the parents even wrote down the web site for cruise.

This week in the classroom we have been doing pre-cruise lessons. We started the week with Alison Cawood from Scripps Institution of Oceanography coming into the class and discussing CTD data and how and why scientist look at this data when at sea. The students practiced graphing techniques that they will be using next week. We will be sending CTD data back to the classroom so that they can graph and do comparisons with similar data from 20 years ago. They will have to come up a hypothesis and discuss some of the reasons for the changes.

Also during the week we looked at how scientist use bathymetric data of the ocean floor. The students produced clay models of ocean bottom features and using a lesson plan from NOAA were able to make a small bathymetric map. We then discussed why bathymetric maps are essential to oceanographers. The next day the class used information from the volcanic island Loihi in Hawaii. We discussed the differences between two-dimensional and three-dimensional maps. The follow up to these lessons is to build a three-dimensional map of Loihi. We used three types of material. Some of the students used colored paper. Another group used foam paper and the final group used Play-Doh. Each model was duplicated from there two-dimensional maps that they worked on earlier in the week. The students then were able to discuss which model gave us a more detailed description of Loihi. These lesson plans can be found on the CAL-ECHOES web site along with other interactive lessons. I look forward to this adventure and I am sure that the exciting things we as teachers bring back to our students will benefit them for a long time.

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