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How You* Can Be on the JOIDES Resolution (* “you” being an educator)
Submitted by Educator Ideas on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 17:18
As every educator knows, telling a student about something is never quite as effective as giving them the real experience. Similarly, teaching about the science and operations of the JOIDES Resolution becomes more meaningful when the teacher and/or students are able to have a real experience of it. Amazingly, it is not actually that difficult to make that happen.
The easiest way for both students and teachers to experience the JR is through webcasts. Each science expedition offers webcast opportunities that allow schools and museums to tour some of the JR lab spaces and see, talk and interact with the scientists and other crew live while they are at sea. Thanks to NSF funding, these webcasts are free, and thanks to Skype, fairly easy to set up. Based on the feedback we have received from teachers after this expedition's webcasts, they are a powerful teaching tool that inspires students while reinforcing science concepts and methods, broadening the horizons of students to opportunities and experiences outside their hometown, and allowing them to interact with real scientists who are doing research sometimes on the opposite side of the planet (for an article about one of our recent webcasts click here). The webcasts for this expedition are almost over, but you can find out how to sign up for the upcoming expeditions by visiting here.
Here is how a webcast looks from our perspective. You can see our microbiologist Jason and one of our physical properties specialists Patrick, who are on the JR while it is in the South Pacific, answering questions from middle school students in Georgia, USA.
Like any extra-classroom experience, a webcast becomes more meaningful when it is integrated into the classroom learning. For teachers who would like to teach geology concepts, but do not feel comfortable about their understanding of them, the Deep Earth Academy (the education branch of the JOIDES Resolution research) offers a professional development opportunity for educators about marine geology that occurs on the JOIDES Resolution. School of Rock is like marine geology camp for teachers and informal educators that takes place at sea on the JOIDES Resolution for about two weeks. Educators have the opportunity to learn about marine geology and research while also studying the same cores and using the same lab equipment as the scientists. It is a hugely beneficial program that provides knowledge, classroom resources and contacts both with scientists and with other, like-minded educators (I am an alum, so I know what I am talking about. You can see my nose in the photo below amongst my fellow educators Patti, Hurd and Dudley from our participation in the 2009 School of Rock). And it’s free of charge with all expenses paid! To find out more about this program, visit here.
Finally, if you really want the full experience of the JOIDES Resolution, you can do what I am doing right now, and apply to be the Education Officer for a JOIDES Resolution research expedition. It is a job, you are coordinating and facilitating educational outreach activities for the expedition such as webcasts and blogs (you do get paid), but it is also an educational opportunity for you to be completely immersed in scientific research as it is happening; an invaluable experience for any educator who teaches science. Being Education Officer is a commitment and hard work (you work 12 hours a day, seven days a week for eight weeks straight) and at times can be an endurance test (for example, as fresh vegetables have disappeared over the course of the expedition, these last two weeks I spend a lot of time daydreaming about leafy vegetables. I cannot say that has ever happened before), but sitting here on day 53 at sea, I would gladly do this again (just, not like immediately) and would not trade the experience for anything (Nowhere in my contract was I obligated to say any of this. It was all my own idea and of my own free will). To find out how you can become an Education Officer, visit here.
On a different note, this is my last Educator Ideas post. Thanks for following along! I hope I was able to present at least some ideas that were useful to help your students and/or informal audiences better understand the science of the Louisville Seamount Trail expedition. And thanks for all you do to prepare the next generation for the future!