We certainly think our research is interesting and worthwhile, but the question is, can we get others excited and motivated to study our oceans? We want to involve others in our research, so we are always looking to establish new connections with people locally, regionally, and even globally. If you have an idea of how to expand or link some of these programs to people near you, or new ideas that you would like to discuss, please get in touch.

Here are some of the programs we have going right now:

The Students Observing Sikuliaq Satellite Information (SOSSI, or “Saucy”) program!

Recently funded by the North Pacific Research Board, the SOSSI program is now set to begin in spring 2021! Here’s a summary what its all about:

Biological oceanography is a fascinating topic often overshadowed by the charismatic creatures discussed in typical marine biology classes. Our aim here is to generate interest in rarely covered oceanographic concepts within high school classrooms by developing exciting curriculum focused on the critical importance of phytoplankton in our regional and global ecosystem and the fascinating way in which we monitor global phytoplankton stocks using satellites (i.e. the concept of ocean color). This program is centered on engaging in-person and remote classroom activities in high schools, starting locally in Fairbanks with the goal of expanding into other Alaskan districts.

Our first step will be to create an online 3D visualization of their at-sea laboratory (for an example of these 3D visuals, click here. We will also develop online tools for student participation (ship-tracker, NASA data portals, etc.).

Actual in-person classroom visits are set to begin in spring 2022, where we will introduce concepts to learners and begin a student-led ‘satellite matchup exercise’. This exercise will involve our team, who will be at sea aboard the research vessel (R/V) Sikuliaq, relaying real-time results of ocean color data directly to the classroom. The students will use the skills and tools familiarized through in-class visits (ship’s position using ship-tracker and satellite data from NASA) to compare NASA products to real-time data. In other words, students do their own ‘satellite matchup analysis’ in communication with a scientific team at sea!

Aside from providing fun and exciting experiences for students, this program will culminate in the development of a standardized curriculum unit that can be taught with or without our in-class support and can be expanded/modified to fit into other schools/grades throughout Alaska and elsewhere.

Developing Place-Based Education: Groundwater lecturing, curriculum and monitoring in Alaskan coastal communities using natural radiotracers!

The objective of this work is to lay the foundation for a community-driven, place-based education program centered in Alaskan coastal communities that focuses on the importance of groundwater discharge into their local marine water. Specific goals of the project are:

  • Initiate face-to-face interaction between our group and the local community to discuss/present research education ideas and gauge interest in further developing classroom curriculum and community-based monitoring of groundwater.
  • Conduct a small radiotracer survey with a diverse group of students, volunteers, and interns, with the aim of generating a ‘student-owned’ dataset of ground-water hotspots in their local marine system.

These interactions are already underway (although, for now, entirely virtual)! Regardless, we are excited to see where this leads, and hope to begin visiting communities in 2021.