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Teacher Ocean Technology Institute (TOTI)
Over 30 educators and scientists met for a two-day Teacher Ocean Technology Institute (TOTI) at Project Oceanology and University of Connecticut-Avery Point on November 11-12, 2011. Educators from Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida and Michigan worked together to learn about various ocean technologies and the educational resources in development through the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence – Technology and Education for Knowledge (COSEE-TEK). Ten of these educators previously participated in COSEE-TEK’s Professional Development “Teacher Technology Experiences” (TTEs) where they worked side by side with UCONN Marine Scientists using the latest technologies to explore our ocean world. Technologies ranged from Conductivity, Temperature and Depth (CTD) sensors to Gliders for physical measurements of the water, to exploring light and polarization in camouflaged animals, to the use of passive samplers as chemical detectors and recruitment platforms for larval colonizers. During the week-long TTE teachers worked intensively with scientists, technicians and graduate and undergraduate students to learn about the technology and to help develop educational resources (lesson plans, images, maps, etc.) to be made available on the COSEE-TEK website. The two-day TOTI helped introduce new teachers to COSEE-TEK, the science, scientists and technologies and the resources being developed from the summer’s TTEs. It also was a wonderful platform for recruiting new teachers for next summer’s TTEs.
Day 1 of the TOTI began with a broad introduction to ocean technology and applications for science and exploration, followed by a brief overview of the COSEE-TEK program. In the afternoon, UCONN scientists who collaborated in the summer TTEs provided a profile of their research activities, methods, and associated ocean technologies, including tours of their research laboratories, where they learned more about relevant investigations being conducted.
First, Kay Howard-Stroebel spoke about the use of ocean gliders, acoustic doppler current profilers (ADCPs) and CTDs to acquire physical water quality data, determine water column structure, and measure/predict current flow in Long Island Sound. In Dr. Jim O'Donnell's lab, participants got to see an underwater glider and other physical oceanographic sensors upclose and visit the laboratory that supports data management and access for the Long Island Sound Integrated Coastal Observing System (LISICOS).
Then, Dr. Heidi Dierssen discussed a wide array of ocean imagery spanning from underwater photographs to airborne hyperspectral imagers to satellite remote sensing and how these data-rich resources can illuminate themes such as habitat classification and camouflage. In the laboratory, educators participated in hands-on demonstrations of light transmission and absorption in water and experimented with a simple activity on the polarization of light.
The final research/technology profile was provided by Dr. Penny Vlahos who presented her work on the use of passive sampling devices and their application for monitoring pollutants in coastal environments and by Dr. John Hamilton who presented the use of simple settling plates to understand the dynamics of biological recruitment. The tour of the Vlahos lab centered on the use of Basic Observation Buoys and how they can be used concurrently with sensors called EVAs that sense certain contaminants in the water.
Following each tour, the TTE participants presented their ideas to the group for lesson plan and educational resource development. The informal, open nature of these discussions spurred many interesting discussions about incorporating these research topics in the classroom.
To conclude Day 1 of the 2011 TOTI, a panel of marine researchers presented on three areas of ocean technology and associated research applications. The purpose of this technology panel was to highlight technologies that will be utilized in next summer’s TTEs and generate interest for future educator participants. The plan for 2012 will focus on broad-scale underwater mapping technologies including multibeam and side scan sonar can expeditiously provide a wealth of information about seafloor topography. These seafloor mapping efforts will be “groundtruthed” using remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and towed camera sled technologies to provide visual confirmation of seafloor habitats and provide additional data on species abundance and diversity, geology, and water quality. Using these technologies in tandem allows researchers to make strong inferences about broad scale marine habitat dynamics.
The first presentation given by Brian Calder of the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping was titled “Ocean Mapping with Multibeam Echosounders” Dr. Calder addressed the use of multibeam and backscatter acoustics to explore the seafloor and water column. Innovative developments in the area of marine acoustics have also been used to assess the condition of port structures, map shipwreck targets for better navigation and further exploration, and even identify schooling fish in the water column. The second presentation by Kevin O’Brien of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was titled “Benthic Mapping in Long Island Sound: Perspectives from Coastal Management”. This focused on the use of acoustic mapping products and data presented in geographic information systems to make better decisions about land use in and around Long Island Sound. To conclude, Eric Heupel, a graduate student in UCONN’s Marine Science Program, gave a perspective of how landscape ecologists use habitat maps combined with underwater video of fish and invertebrates to make better inferences about important habitats for marine conservation.
Research Cruise in Long Island Sound
On Day 2 of the TOTI, participants began the day by climbing aboard Project Oceanology’s R/V Enviro-Lab II to experience for themselves some of the technologies in action. The cruise began with a 20-minute bottom trawl to collect specimens for camouflage studies. Specimens included spider crabs, rock crabs, mantis shrimp, skate and winter flounder (the latter were used for the camouflage work). After the trawl, participants worked with a Conductivity, Temperature and Depth (CTD) sonde to measure the physical characteristics of various sites within Eastern Long Island Sound (see image below). The cruise concluded with a recovery of one of the local BOBs within the Thames River. Educators replaced the EVA passive samplers and took photos of the settlement plates for later analysis and to add to the education resources available on the COSEE-TEK website.
The TOTI concluded with an engaging roundtable discussion of the results of the two-day workshop and how the educational resources being developed could be used in the classroom. Of particular note, most of the educators were eager to adopt the EVA & BOB initiative into their curriculum and science classroom activities. COSEE-TEK plans to continue this TTE for 2012, but is also seeking additional funds to leverage this exciting initiative as a growing collaboration of citizen science throughout the country, ideally spearheaded by the COSEE Network.
In addition, one teacher is taking the lead on developing a student produced “TEKipedia” by encouraging students to explore a particular ocean technology and develop a detailed profile of the instrument including research application, advantages, disadvantages, images, video, data, and publications illustrating the development and applications of these technologies. COSEE-TEK plans to host the TEKipedia on its website and will encourage teachers to challenge students to build this educational resource.