Last month, the Massachusetts Marine Educators held their annual conference and meeting at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). In a sunny, ocean-side room in the Clark Building on the WHOI Quissett Campus, participants arrived and chatted with exhibitors, including Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness, and the Museum Institute for Teaching Science.
As the event got underway, attendants were treated to two great keynote speakers. Dr. Ben Harden from Sea Education Association spoke about his research in the Arctic Ocean on where the Gulf Stream ends and other currents begin. He related his experience in using the temperature and salinity driven density gradients that power global ocean circulation, as a teaching tool, and even demonstrated some related classroom activities. Dr. Carla Curran from Savannah State University spoke on how educators can use marine mammals and other charismatic megafauna to drawn on the interest of students, and shared her inspiring experiences as a research scientist who has made K–12 outreach efforts a priority in her career and research program.
After a delicious lunch of soup and sandwiches, participants had many options for learning in the two two afternoon sessions. These activities ranged from classroom demonstrations and discussions to beach field trips and tours, and were led by a variety of MME member organizations including the Northeastern University Marine Science Center, NOAA, WHOI, and the New England Aquarium.
On the guided tour of the R/V Neil Armstrong, participants heard from the second mate and other crew members about the research and daily operations on WHOI’s newest research vessel. A climate education workshop demonstrated how teachers can implement the new Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Standards, while relaying to their students the importance of engineering climate change solutions. In a dolphin necropsy workshop, educators learned how to model a real life marine mammal stranding assessment for implementation as a cross-curricular STEM lab activity.
After a full day of learning, inspiration, and sharing of ideas, conference attendees enjoyed the chance to catch up with old friends and new at the reception held at the Sea Education Association. A huge thank you goes out to Dr. Amy Siuda for chairing the event and to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for hosting the event at the Clark Building on their Quissett Campus.
- Elaine Brewer, MME