586 Teacher at Sea Alumna Explores Education and Science on the HICEAS 2017 Cetacean Study

Tuesday, 9 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Staci DeSchryver, Education, Centennial, CO

This poster will review the research conducted during the Hawaiian Islands Cetacean Ecosystem Assessment Survey for 2017, and the role of the Teacher at Sea selected for the first leg of the study. The poster will demonstrate the mutual benefits for both classroom and scientific team for having a Teacher at Sea on board; primarily the ways these outreach opportunities allow for greater dissemination of scientific study and the incorporation of real-world scientific processes in to the classroom.

Teacher at Sea is a program designed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for current classroom teachers to join a scientific crew on a research mission in an ocean environment. Trips typically fall in to one of three research categories: Hydrographic, Physical Oceanography, or Fisheries studies. The role of the teacher is to help the scientific team, learn the workings of the ship’s crew and officers, and blog about the science done on the ship while out at sea. At the conclusion of the trip, teachers produce lesson plans related to the science taking place on board and a second lesson on NOAA careers. Teachers are also asked to share information to the general public and other teachers to spread the word about the benefits of the Teacher at Sea Program.

In a recent study of the value of the Teacher at Sea Program to classroom teachers and other community stakeholders, it was concluded that Teachers at Sea cited significant benefits that impact teaching skills, scientific knowledge, and pedagogical practice. The immersive nature of the program helps teachers to experience hands-on science and take these methods and employ them in the classroom. As a participant, I can speak directly to these benefits as I participated in the program evaluation and returned to sea a second time immediately following the release of the report.

As a two-time Teacher at Sea participant, I am in a unique position to discuss and demonstrate the renewed benefits of Teacher at Sea for a classroom teacher. Both experiences were highly varied, and yielded different and specific benefits for the classroom. This poster will discuss the varying benefits of both projects, however it will highlight the most current project, HICEAS 2017.

The Hawaiian Islands Cetacean Ecosystem Assessment Survey is a cetacean (dolphins and whales) abundance survey conducted approximately once per decade throughout the entire Hawaiian Exclusive Economic Zone. Methodology includes following abundance assessments utilizing Line Transect Theory and analysis. Each predetermined trackline is followed at a given speed with marine mammal observers surveying the open ocean for the presence of cetaceans. In a separate lab, acousticians are listening via towed hydrophone array for vocalizations from mammals. When a species is sighted or localized to an area via hydrophone detection, abundance estimates may begin. Data collection is followed via protocol for various species, determining whether or not the ship will try to get a visual from an acoustic detection, or if acoustics will aid in the continued localization of a visual detection. Each sighting will yield an individual abundance estimate from each of the observers to be analyzed at a later time. Observations then continue again along the trackline at the conclusion of the estimation for each observer.

The poster will demonstrate the methodologies of line transect analysis, the process for sighting and recording animal abundance, and the methods of data analysis following the conclusion of the study. It will also discuss the application process for the Teacher at Sea program from a professional development standpoint, and the multiple benefits of being a Teacher at Sea and a member of the Teacher at Sea Alumni. A ready-to-use lesson plan for NOAA careers and a ready-to-use lesson plan for line transect analysis will be available upon request for classroom teachers to utilize in the classroom.

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