UNH - Linking the Ocean to the Classroom

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Agenda (PDF)

University of New Hampshire





A Brief Overview of the Mathematical Relevance of Information and Materials used During the GoMOOS Educator's Workshop

- Lakisha Mundon

During the week long education workshop focused on integrating oceanography into all k-12 curriculums, mathematics instruction proved to be relevant, necessary, and effective. The materials used during this workshop, such as ImageJ, Phytopia, and the Gulf of Main Ocean Observing System(GoMOOs) website were valuable tools used to develop and implement a thematic unit in oceanography or a more specific sub-topic such as Phytoplankton. ImageJ is a program that allows the user to explore remote sensing data. Phytopia is an educational CD developed and produced by Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. It is very student-friendly; exploring various species of phytoplankton. The GoMOOs website provides hourly weather and oceanography data for the Gulf of Maine. This constant updating of ocean data provides educators to use real-time, real life data to explain the ever-changing activity in the ocean.

Mathematical Relevance
The middle school curriculum is designed to provide interdisciplinary lessons in attempts to stimulate students and keep them interested in the teaching and learning process. This is especially true with mathematics and science. The "Linking the Ocean to the Classroom" workshop provided the perfect opportunity for mathematics and science teachers to collaborate and effectively align learning objectives to create a thematic unit. The unit of choice is phytoplankton because of its importance in the ocean as well as in our everyday lives. The relevant mathematical topics used for this theme are scale drawings of the phytoplankton, dilations, symmetry, and scientific notation. Other in depth topics include analyzing and graphing the daily change in the tidelines (using the GoMoos website) and testing the salinity of the ocean (at different times and positions). In addition, everyday mathematical operations and use of measures of central tendency also add to the mathematical relevance of oceanography.

Math is Universal! As an educator in a specific discipline such as math, it is exciting to show students how mathematics can be found everywhere, even in the ocean. Experiencing a life of math involves exposure to all subjects including science, history, communication skills, physical education, and more. The GoMoos educator’s workshop offered many useful materials and information sessions designed to intertwine different disciplines under one theme relating to oceanography. From there, creative, diverse, and stimulating lesson plans were produced.

Sample Mathematics Lesson
"Knowledge is Power: Phytoplankton and Scientific Notation"

Grade Level:
Middle School Mathematics

Basic integer operations
Understanding of Scientific Notation

Lesson Objectives: TLW:
a) develop flexibility in solving problems by selecting strategies using estimations, computation, and calculators
b) collect, organize, analyze, and display data to solve problems

Subtopics: Scale size, dilation, symmetry

Procedure: Students will use Phytopia CD to explore characteristics of phytoplankton. From there, students will use knowledge of scale drawings and scientific notation to draw enlargements. Compare and contrast . Graph results.

Linking the Ocean to the classroom

- Nava K. Sutton

The workshop I attended was full of information!! It was exciting and useful for the classroom. The production of the workshop was top notch! Every morning we would start off with a good breakfast and socializing time. It was fun getting to know everyone by name and face. I am not sure how the group was selected but there could not have been a better group of educators. Everyone was on the same page and knew our purpose for attending. Having the ability to get along with people is the first step to a successful workshop regardless of the subject. After we would have our breakfast, it was time for lectures. The main areas covered were phytoplankton blooms, oceanographic technology, remote sensing, oceanography, and other ocean observation data that would be useful in the classroom. The speakers were John Anderson, (New England Aquarium) Janet Campbell, (COOA) Annette DeCharon, (Bigelow Lab) Ru Morrison, (COOA) and John Shyka. (GoMoos)

Each lecturer discussed ocean productivity at many scales. They talked about what drives ocean productivity. I was unfamiliar with a lot of the terms that were used but that did not keep me from learning. They each presented the lesson as if this was the first introduction. Plankton are any marine organisms that are such weak swimmers that they can only drift where tides and currents take them. There are two kinds of plankton: Phytoplankton and zooplankton. Phytoplankton are all the plant plankton which include diatoms and dinoflagellates. Zooplanktons are all the animal plankton such as krill and copepods. Plankton drifts freely and is moved by ocean currents. All plankton are small, some are microscopic. Plant members of the plankton group do not live much deeper than approximately 200 meters because they need sunlight to produce food. Animal members are found at all depths in the ocean but are most abundant in the surface and near surface waters. The main nutrients needed to grow phytoplankton are silicates, nitrates and phosphates. There are three parts to understanding oceanography. Physical, Chemical, and Biological oceanography. The physical deals with stratification, chemical deals with the nutrients needed and biological deals with the phytoplankton at the surface of the ocean. Stratification is the layers of water floating on top of the water. This rapid change in density is influenced by salinity. There are other factors that affect phytoplankton. These factors include sunlight, winds, currents, temperature, and nutrients.

After getting the basic information on phytoplankton, we visited three laboratories where phytoplankton is collected. We saw the instruments used to collect the phytoplankton and how the water quality is tested. That was good information until we had the opportunity to go on the boat they used to collect!! Everyone was so excited about the cruise. We even had a chance to see seals bathing in the sun. The most exciting event was using the equipment! The lab technicians were readily available in case we did something wrong. We were taught exactly how to test water and collect plankton!

During the end of the session, each grade level had to develop a lesson plan we would use in our classrooms from the information learned. There was too much information to put in the paper but I hope you understood the most of the workshop. The night before each grade level had to present, we spent time making posters and power point presentations. Everyone was helping each other and the socializing time was awesome. There was an abundance of handouts, tutorials, worksheets and much more that everyone should be able to use in the classroom.

I am going to take the information and run with it! I cannot wait until it is time to discuss oceanography in my classroom. The energy the lecturers had in presenting the workshop is the same energy I will use to present to my students. Every handout, every tutorial program and every worksheet provided will be used in some form. I would advise any science teacher to attend a workshop as such.