Ship2Shore Marine Educators
Presently, approximately half of the world’s populations lives within 100km of the coast. However, many of those people will never see the ocean and only a handful will ever experience being so far off shore they cannot see land! Ocean Networks Canada staff are lucky – not only do they have the opportunity to be on the ocean, they also get the chance to glimpse beneath the waves.
Twice a year both VENUS and NEPTUNE Canada teams venture to sea to maintain the fibre-optic cables and 100’s of sensors collecting real-time data at the bottom of the ocean. During NEPTUNE Canada’s last maintenance cruise, “Wiring the Abyss 2012”, the scientists and engineers had an addition to their sea-faring team – two educators!
Scott, a high school educator from Brentwood College and Goksenin, a PhD student from the University of Victoria, became Ocean Networks Canada’s first marine educators within its Ship2Shore Marine Educators Program. While on board the RV Thomas G. Thompson, Scott and Goksenin became accustomed to life at sea, while learning about marine science first hand.
Both marine educators had an adventure of a lifetime. Whether they were watching ROPOS (a remotely operated vehicle) explore the sea bottom, making friends with Wally our famed crawler, conducting water property experiments with scientists on board, clambering inside a survival suit, writing daily blogs, or presenting to students and teachers back on shore via video conferencing, Scott and Goksenin enjoyed their journey despite some rough seas!
In the deep sea there is no light, so activities aboard the ship never stopped and there was no such thing as a routine for these educators! Staying up all night fixated on multiple screens within the operation (opts) room, watching ROPOS fly through the mysterious deep sea was just one activity that kept the marine educators up for hours on end! Spending hours in the opts rooms did have its advantages for Scott, when he got a personal lesson on how to “fly” ROPOS, much to the envy of several scientists onboard!
Goksenin thoroughly enjoyed connecting live to students from 200km off the west coast. As a present for some of the students, she coloured Styrofoam cups and sent them down to 2660 meters below sea level attached to ROPOS. The intensity of pressure was extreme and collapsed the cups to roughly 1/5 their original size!
After gaining their “land-legs” from weeks at sea, Scott and Goksenin reflected that “being a part of science in the real world was an excellent experience”, and that “ all educators would benefit from an opportunity such as this”. The ocean is an integral part of our livelihood and increasing students’ ocean literacy should be a priority. The Ship2Shore Marine Educators Program enables educators to connect with the ocean and share their knowledge in the classroom and with colleagues!
The Ship2Shore Marine Educators Program was a huge success and we have hopes that it will continue well into the future. If you a formal or informal educator and would like to experience life at sea for 2-3 weeks, please consider applying to be a Marine Educator. The next cruise leaves September 23rd – dive in!