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GSO offers teachers hands-on research aboard the Endeavor

April 16, 2011

NARRAGANSETT–URI’s Bay Campus is the launching point for many scientific activities. The 30-year-old research vessel Endeavor has traveled over one million nautical miles, transporting scientists and complex research tools to places such as the Black Sea to examine ancient shipwrecks. The GSO offers public school teachers the chance to partake in such important scientific work. Erica Killian is one of them.

“This is my first experience,” said Killian, a mathematics teacher at Exeter-West Greenwich High School. “The scientists took me in and made me a part of the process. They are a really interesting group of people.”

Killian boarded the Endeavor on April 5 under the direction of Dr. Susanne Menden-Deuer, assistant professor at the GSO and chief scientist of the expedition. The vessel also brought along eight graduate students and four undergraduates. Their mission was to study the phytoplankton and their function for the marine food web.

“I did chlorophyll readings and data collection for [the oceanographers’] research,” said Killian. “There was a lot for me to learn about phytoplankton and its role in the ecological system.”

The Endeavor journeyed out past Nantucket into the Atlantic Ocean where it visited 30 stations and collected samples for future research. The scientists traveled as far as George’s Bank before turning back towards Cape Cod Bay and returning to the Bay Campus on April 11.

The GSO’s Teacher-At-Sea Program was founded in 2004 with the aid of funding, upon which it is still dependent, from the RI State Legislature. The pedagogic aspects of the program are significant as it allows participating educators to carry their experience into the classroom and share the collaborative process with students.

“A lot of students don’t see the role math plays,” said Killian. “These kinds of programs offer students real-world applications and bring awareness, even exposing students to potential careers.”

For more information pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.

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