WISE blog: Watershed resources for teachers

WISE logoWelcome the newest member of the Oregon Sea Grant blogging family, WISE, the Watershed & Invasive Species Education blog.

Amy Schneider, a graduate student and science writer at the University of Oregon, is working with WISE program coordinator Tania Siemens to develop up-to-date, high-value content to help teachers learn about emerging watershed issues, which they can then use to engage their students in science learning and community action.

The blog is just the latest teacher tool to emerge from the WISE program, which enlists teachers across Oregon in teacher trainings, a STEM-based curriculum, and on-going engagement in a community for learning and teaching about emerging watershed issues.

Since the program started in 2007, more than 70 teachers have gone through WISE training, reaching more than 4,500 students who have completed at least 50 watershed stewardship projects.

Learn more:

HMSC volunteers return to sea – and blogging

Michael Courtney and Annie Thorp aboard the RV Wecoma, 2011NEWPORT – Michael Courtney and Annie Thorp, longtime volunteers at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, return to sea this week as support crew for Dr. Clare Reimers, an ocean ecologist and biogeochemist with OSU’s Colleage of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, who is studying the role of seafloor processes in ocean chemical cycles, the influences of low oxygen conditions on ocean biology, geology and chemistry, and new electrochemical tools for ocean observing networks.

Courtney and Thorp, who are husband and wife, have been volunteering at the HMSC Visitor Center since their retirement and have offered their services to shipboard research teams since 2009. They plan to once again chronicle their adventures in words and photographs through their blog, Buoy Tales.

As they wrote at the end of last year’s cruise with Dr. Reimers’ team, “Science is not just sitting in a warm, stable lab. It is also hard, hard work. Collecting the necessary data means being cold, wet, getting dirty, laying on a rough, rolling deck adjusting sensitive equipment, taking samples in an enclosed van under a dim red light, and working in a lab that won’t stand still.”

This voyage will be on board the R/V Oceanus, OSU’s new research vessel. The research team is loading and setting up equipment today, and expects to depart tomorrow for a cruise lasting until Oct. 15, taking the science team to the waters of the the continental shelf off the Pacific Northwest coast.

Learn more:

New blog chronicles science on – and under – ice

Deep Sea and Polar Biology, a new blog by a pair of Oregon State University scientists, chronicles their work trying to understand the role those extreme environments play in storing and releasing carbon into the Earth’s atmosphere.

The writers – post-doctoral scholar Andrew Thurber and graduate student Rory Welch – are writing and posting terrific photographs of the polar landscape and their under-ice dives in Antarctica, near the McMurdo Research Station, located on the southern tip of Ross Island. They’re also running an occasional “ask a scientist” feature for students around the country who want to learn more about their work.

Thurber,  a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Scholar based in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, is studying the trophic linkages between microbes and metazoans in marine habitats and how that impacts ecosystem function, or how animals that eat bacteria can impact how the world works.

Welch, a graduate student in the Microbiology department at Oregon State University, is studying an unusual group of predatory bacteria, Bacteriovorax, that prey exclusively on other gram negative bacteria.

In the introduction to their blog, they write:

“Most of the world experiences drastic seasonal variation in the amount of food that is available throughout the year. In deep-sea habitats as well as the poles a single or sometimes few pulses of food provide nourishment for the entire year. Now you may wonder what that means to you? Why does it matter what happens in the deep, dark ocean or far away in a frozen waste land? The answer is that these communities decide how much of the carbon that we are putting into the atmosphere stays in the ocean, only to be released again and how much is buried for geologic time periods (meaning largely beyond the age of humans). However, we know very little about how the biology of how these habitats actually function, what makes them decide whether they break down and release the carbon and nitrogen or bury for, as far as humans are concerned, ever? Quite simply, that is the goal of this research.”

Free-choice lab launches blog

Welcome Oregon Sea Grant’s Free-Choice Learning Lab to the blogosphere!

The lab, based at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, employs cutting-edge research tools and technologies to study informal science learning. The knowledge will be put in practice in the form of  new and improved exhibits in the HMSC Visitor Center, which is managed by Sea Grant.

The blog,  launched last week, will to record the work of graduate research assistant Harrison Baker and other graduate students as they design, build, test and refine the new exhibits.

Under the direction of Dr. Shawn Rowe, Sea Grant’s Free-Choice Learning program specializes in conducting and applying  research on the  learning that happens when people choose to visit science museums, zoos, and aquariums in their leisure time, making specific and conscious choices about what they learn. The program was recently awarded a $2.6 million, five-year, National Science Foundation (NSF) grant – the largest ever received by Sea Grant –  toward the creation of  the new lab, which will employ the Visitor Center’s exhibits as tools for studying how people learn in a free-choice environment.

Marine educator blogs from shipboard

Bill Hanshumaker, Sea Grant’s marine educator at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, is blogging from sea off the Pacific coast this week as he travels with scientists seeking to learn more about seafloor geology and earthquakes.

The team is traveling aboard OSU’s R/V Wecoma with a crew from the Cascadia Initiative, an onshore/offshore seismic and geodetic experiment that studies questions ranging from megathrust earthquakes to volcanic arc structure to the formation, deformation and hydration of the Juan De Fuca and Gorda plates.

The team takes advantage of an Amphibious Array of 60 ocean-bottom sensors installed with funding from the 2009 US Recovery Act to improve undersea earthquake monitoring and advance our understanding of geologic processes in the seismically active region off the coasts of Oregon, Washington and Northern California. The system also includes onshore GPS stations and earthquake monitoring instruments. Participating institutions include Columbia University, IRIS, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and UNAVCO, a nonprofit consortium of universities supporting geoscience research and education.

This is the third major research cruise over the past decade for Dr. Hanshumaker, who has been educating the public about science for 16 years at the HMSC Visitor Center, and before that, at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.  In 2005 and 2006, he joined  the Sounds From the Southern Ocean cruises with a team led by NOAA/OSU researcher Bob Dziak, who is also one of the principle investigators on the current project.

As he’s done on previous research voyages, Bill is blogging about the voyage, the research and the research team, this time from http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/billgoestosea.

Shipboard blogging can be a challenge, thanks to a hectic research schedule and unpredictable Internet access, but Bill is posting as time and conditions permit, and also plans to share the experience with Visitor Center audiences on his return to Newport.

Sea Grant’s water blogger moving on

Rob EmanuelRob Emanuel, who for the past few years has been actively blogging from Tillamook about water, water quality and community on Oregon’s north coast, is leaving Oregon Sea Grant for a private-sector position in the Portland metro area.

Rob plans to continue blogging, however, at a new address: http://h2oncoast.wordpress.com

Rob plans to continue blogging about issues related to water, watersheds, climate, ecosystems and community, over a broader geographic area – roughly the region that stretches from the foothills of the Cascades to the coast.

Sea Grant will miss him, but we wish him the best in his new adventures.