California Educator

April 2015

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That was the first line in my application for the Teacher at Sea program, which began my adventure in the Pacific this summer. I learned about this National Science Foun- dation-sponsored program for teachers when I attended a workshop at the Birch Aquarium at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. The Teacher at Sea program provides an opportunity for educators to spend 30 days on a research vessel and participate in real-world, inter- disciplinary research toward understanding and protecting the world's oceans and resources. When I received the news that I had been chosen as the Teacher at Sea, I felt incredibly lucky and horrified at the same time. I had night- mares of a giant octopus lifting the ship out of the water, as well as massive waves wiping out everyone on deck. Fortunately, none of that happened. Instead, I got to work with and learn from a group of incredi- bly knowledgeable human beings whose determination inspired me on a personal and professional level. For one month, I was part of a team of 37 oceanographers and 23 crewmembers on board the R/V Melville. The team of researchers from California Current Ecosystem Long Term Ecological Research (CCE-LTER) was led by Mark Ohman, director of the CCE-LTER site, and cruise chief scientist Mike Landry, both from Scripps. Their research focus was on the ef- fects of rising temperatures along the California coast, one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. As the Teacher at Sea, my duty was to assist with the deployment and recovery of nets, as well as to maintain a bilingual blog about my experiences. I offered to write it in Spanish for the largely Span- ish-speaking audience in the Imperial Valley and the city of Calexico, where I have worked as a science teacher for over a decade. I was so excited to begin writing the blog and to get to know everyone, but during those first three days, the motion of the waves was very rough on me. My body kept trying to stay balanced while walking through the hallways of the vessel. Instead, I would bump into the walls while trying to hold on to the nearest chair or table to keep me from falling. In the restroom, I felt so thankful for all the bars that sur- rounded the walls, especially when I took a shower! It was a lot to get used to, but before I knew it, my body had adjusted. I was no longer fighting the sensation of being on a waterbed when I tried to go to sleep. I even found it soothing. After being on the ves- sel for a few days, my fear of the ocean was gone. Its size was humbling, its motion mysterious, and I had no other way to feel but being part of it. I was ready to embrace the experience, and I did. I carried with me a Canon DSLR, a GoPro video camera strapped around my chest, and a small note- book. Because I was prepared with my equipment, I was fortunate enough to capture some incredible images of sea life. One amazing sight was the day Kyra Rashid, graduate student, and I spotted a giant sunfish. I screamed when I saw it from deck while my left hand took over photographing. At that moment I realized that my camera had become an extension of myself. On another occasion, Dr. Ohman and I used the GoPro camera attached to a 15-foot pole to film re- markable gelatinous zooplankton called salps, as they drifted by underwater. For those 30 days, I was surrounded by the most determined and adaptable individuals I have ever met. Research was happening 24 hours a day, and some scientists only slept three or four hours at a time. Every minute was very valuable, so I volun- teered to help as much as I could, and I asked many questions to understand the methodology of the experiments and the questions behind the research that was taking place. Many of the scientists came from other countries such as France, Spain, Colombia, Germany and " I am a science teacher, and I am terrified of the ocean." by Carmina Ramirez , Associated Calexico Teachers I was a terrified teacher at sea Know & Tell Sharing 12

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