In 2020, health and safety restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic placed the NOAA Teacher at Sea (TAS) Program on hold. Now, teachers are setting sail once more to work with world-renowned NOAA scientists and bring what they learn to their classrooms.
The TAS Program offers educators a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get hands-on experience and a unique look into oceanic and atmospheric research. This year, the program welcomed a cohort of six teachers from across the country for the new 2022 field season.
"We are thrilled to be sailing teachers once more on NOAA research surveys for this unique research experience," says director Jennifer Hammond. "Our program was just one of so many things that were disrupted by the pandemic, and we wanted the teachers originally selected to sail that year to count this as a delayed opportunity, not a lost one."
Educators from different backgrounds and areas of expertise joined NOAA scientists to learn how to collect data that contribute to our understanding of the ocean and Great Lakes. This year’s cohort included two teachers from Ohio who sailed as the first and second TAS on Lake Erie, a teacher from Puerto Rico who shared his experiences on a Pacific hake survey in both English and Spanish, and a high school physics teacher from Texas with more than two decades of classroom experience who surveyed groundfish in the Gulf of Mexico. You can read more about their expeditions in the summaries below.
Jordan Findley's blog offsite link
On June 9, 2022, Jordan Findley embarked on a reef fish survey aboard NOAA Ship Pisces out of Galveston, Texas. She is an educator from Tampa Bay Watch, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering a healthy watershed through education programs and community-driven restoration projects. Findley was excited to share her experiences with her students, exposing them to the innovative NOAA research happening at sea and building excitement for science.
"I consider myself lucky to have met and worked with the Pisces crew. Every person on this trip has left an impression on me. From day one, the crew has been so welcoming and willing to let me participate, committed to providing me an exceptional experience.”
Oktay Ince's blog offsite link
Oktay Ince, an assistant principal of academics at the Horizon Science Academy High School in Columbus, Ohio, set sail on the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson in June 2022 to conduct a hydrographic survey of Lake Erie. Ince was the first TAS to set sail on any Great Lake, and he learned how NOAA scientists map the lake floor and collect data. He brought back what he learned to his school and shared different ocean-related careers with his students.
"When I say I am learning, I do not mean that I am listening and observing what others say, and jotting down what I heard. I mean that I am hands on, doing what others do on the ship."
Laura Grimm's blog offsite link
In July, Laura Grimm boarded the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson to embark on the next leg of the Lake Erie hydrographic survey. She is a science, technology, engineering, arts, and math teacher for kindergarten through 8th grade students at Dalton Local Elementary and Middle School, located in a rural village in Wayne County in Northeast Ohio.
"This experience has taught me many things about science and technology, career possibilities, what it is like to live on a ship, relationships and work culture, and the power of reflection. I learned so much more than is represented in my blog posts. I am looking forward to sharing my experience with my students and the community."
George Hademenos' blog offsite link
George Hademenos, a physics teacher in his 21st year of teaching at Richardson High School in Texas, went out to sea on the R/V Tommy Munro to take part in the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program’s Summer Groundfish survey. From his experience, he was able to communicate the importance of planning, collecting, and evaluating surveys of shrimp, groundfish, plankton, and reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico to his students and colleagues.
"As an educator interested in any and all things science, I would always look forward to the end of the sampling process and the emptying of the nets to survey our catch — a grab bag of a variety of different types of marine life and species. I had seen images of several types of marine life contained within the nets and recognized even fewer numbers by their name, but again this was an opportunity to learn and every sampling increased my library of marine science knowledge."
Michael Gutiérrez Santiago's blog offsite link
In August, Michael Gutiérrez Santiago embarked on NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada for a Pacific Hake Survey. He is a 12th grade environmental science teacher at the Abelardo Martínez Otero School in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Wanting to share his expedition with his students and fellow teachers as well as people in other Spanish-speaking communities, Gutiérrez wrote his blogs in both English and Spanish.
“The crew has been excellent, all with a kind and respectful treatment towards me ... In just a few days of meeting them, they have taught me a lot. They have all been patient and have explained and answered questions regarding the work they do on the high seas. Their knowledge and experiences have led me to create great admiration for them.”
Maronda Hastie's blog offsite link
In late August, Maronda Hastie, an algebra, geometry, & pre-calculus teacher at McNair High School in Atlanta, Georgia, set sail on the NOAA Ship Oregon II to work with NOAA scientists on a shark/snapper bottom longline survey.
“I’m excited about studying sharks, because ... I get to bring it all back and I will share it with my colleagues, I will share it with my students, and I will share it with the community. I feel like my job is to just spread the information about ocean opportunities, as well as opportunities for the students to know about more careers, more field trips, more hands-on activities in the classroom.”