Wednesday, June 25, 2014


As we were approaching the University
of Washington.

Some time has passed since we departed the R/V Melville. Some of the scientists headed home to be with their families, while others have moved on to their next scientific opportunity. I decided to stay in Seattle for five days to spend time with my wife in one of our favorite cities in the United States.  Unlike in my previous research trips, we were able to meet up with some cruise colleagues before we headed back to Houston. The weather was perfect for our stay with air temperatures in the mid-70s and cool winds at night. 

L to R: Hannah Glover (UW/NOAA-PMEL), Rachel Vander
Giessen (UW-APL), Kathryn Ferguson (NOAA-NWFSC/FSU),
me, and Brian Bill (NOAA-NWFSC).

So now that I'm back home, where do I go from here?  During the summer, I will clean up and hopefully improve some of my blog entries.  I look forward to taking a few hours a day to read them, just as many of you have done. I'll start to think of ways to incorporate my experiences in my chemistry lessons. As important as the science was, I want my students to really understand how critical good teamwork is in order to meet a scientific goal.  We had a really good team that worked hard, but also enjoyed the journey along the way.

As time passes, more information about our research will become available to the public. I plan to link reports of the research to my blog. I hope that teachers, students and all concerned stakeholders, will continue to use my entries as a means to understand the challenges that our world ocean faces. Please feel free to contact me via this blog and on Twitter.

As an educator, I can say that blog writing has been a great experience as a means of reflection. The process was not easy at first, but after a few days it became much more routine for me.  When we started our cruise, I would rely on first taking pictures, asking questions to the scientists, then framing the events of the day into the story. After the experiments started and were well on their way, I wanted to shift my focus on the people working on the research. Very rarely, does the public get to see experiments take place.  I wanted to present them in a way that was accurate in terms of the science, but  I also felt that is was important to show the fun involved in such time-sensitive, and sometimes physically demanding work.

The most challenging aspect of blog writing while on the R/V Melville, was our very slow Internet connection.  For reasons unknown, we had spotty connections at best. Trey and I would attempt to snap photos, and compress them for upload throughout the day. We tried our best to sit down and write in between our sampling stations, sometimes only to find that the Internet was not working. The ship's crew was nice enough to stay off the Internet from 19:00 to midnight, giving us more bandwidth to work with. Even then, it could take hours to type, insert photos, format, edit, and finally post.  It was hard to deal with in the beginning, but as the cruise carried on, Trey and I managed to adapt and plan. As teachers, that's what we do... I remember someone once told me that teaching comprised of 25% planning and 75% improvisation.  I believe that improvisation is what made the stories so much fun to write about.

I've been fortunate to been able to meet and talk with reporters from Houston, San Francisco and Seattle. Since returning home, I've have been invited to take part in a panel discussion with my school district, our local junior college system, and Texas A&M, about research trips and practices. I am very excited to share my experiences with them. We will meet on October 30th.

I encourage educators to look for field work experiences. The best type of professional development is working in the field. There are opportunities out there, waiting to be claimed. I recommend attending conferences and networking -- there are lots of research projects that often need an outreach component. Teachers serve as that link to the classroom, to their communities and to the general public.

I would like to once again thank all of you for your interest and support during this research project. I hope that you will continue to check back as I may be adding additional information and resources as they arise. Until then, I wish you all fair winds and following seas...

A view of the R/V Melville from Interstate 5, Seattle, Washington.

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