It was always Julia Harvey’s dream to become a marine biologist. After earning a degree in biology, Harvey spent three years in the Peace Corps, and during that experience, she says she “got distracted by teaching” and decided to change her career path. After earning her master’s degree, Harvey returned to her native Eugene, where she teaches science at South Eugene High School.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Teacher at Sea Program offers teachers a unique opportunity to participate in hands-on science experiences by boarding NOAA research vessels and working with scientists and researchers. Each year, NOAA only takes 10 percent of their applicants, and Harvey was one of the 25 teachers selected for the 2013 season.
As a long time WISE teacher and attendee of the first WISE workshop, Harvey is interested in finding new and relevant topics to present to her students. Through the WISE Program, she learned about invasive species and incorporated that curriculum into her teaching. Her students made “wanted” posters for invasive species, writing about various species attributes and describing whey the are harmful to native species. Harvey also helped her students set up an experimental project by collecting Japanese knotweed and finding out its germination time. She says it’s important to connect the lessons to real-life concepts. So when Harvey learned about the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program, she knew she had to apply.
On her voyage, which starts July 22, Harvey will help scientists survey walleye pollock, a species of cod normally found in the north Pacific Ocean. Harvey says she will be working on the NOAA ship Oscar Dyson, which leaves from Kodiak, Alaska, and she will be doing research and collecting data on 12 hour shifts. In college, Harvey tagged halibut on a boat, so she already has experience being out to sea.
“I’m required to work as a scientist and get a blog going,” Harvey says of her responsibilities as a NOAA Teacher at Sea. She’ll also be required to develop lesson plans related to her adventure, using her own experiences to illustrate scientific concepts.
“I hope kids see my enthusiasm for the trip, and I hope my experience is going to influence them,” she says. “It’s so important having that direct, personal connection to the collection of data.”
Harvey says when she announced to her class that NOAA accepted her into the program, her class broke out into applause. She’s excited to learn from and work with the scientists aboard the Oscar Dyson, and she can’t wait to bring back her knowledge to her students. She says that she will present her work at South Eugene High School’s Career Fair and introduce high schoolers to career choices that may be new to them. Harvey’s passion for marine biology started as a teenager, and now she has the opportunity to pass that passion on to her students when they hear about her scientific voyage.
Throughout her 18 day journey, Harvey will blog about her experiences, posting pictures and writing about what she learns. Please check back later for a link to her blog, so you can follow along. For more information about the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program, please visit: http://teacheratsea.noaa.gov/