Truro Central School Hosts NOAA Ocean Day
Stacey Klimkosky (TAS 2009) the Truro Central School media teacher, students and staff welcomed NOAA Outreach and Education on Protected Species NOEPS) marine educators and scientists from the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) in Woods Hole, MA to her school for NOAA Ocean Day on April 15, 2014. These “Scientists Teaching Science” from the NEFSC Protected Species Branch spent the day teaching 140 K-6 students about bioacoustics, marine mammals, sea turtles, and ocean surface current drifters.
Grace Simpkins, coordinator of the NOAA Outreach and Education on Protected Species (NOEPS) taught students about the importance of sound to marine mammals. They explored how information can be gained from sound, familiarized themselves with the sounds made by various species of marine mammals, and discovered how hard it is to communicate when there is a lot of anthropogenic (man-made) noise. Grace also taught students about marine mammals in their backyard. They learned to distinguish mammals from other animals and then separate marine mammals from other mammals. Students learned about species of cetaceans (whale, dolphin, porpoise) and pinnipeds (seal, sea lion, walrus) that can be found off Cape Cod. She also discussed how humans impact the marine environment and what they can do to make a difference.
NOAA NEFSC Biologist, Heather Haas shared information about her work with loggerhead sea turtles. Students had the opportunity to work in teams to try to identify five species of sea turtles based on data they collected by measuring carapaces and counting scutes. Later, based on Heather’s recent substantial blood work with the turtles, she taught them some simple concepts about blood and plasma. The students used pipettes to separate mock “blood” (water, food coloring and vegetable oil) in vials into “red blood cells” and “plasma”.
NOAA NEFSC, Oceanographer Jim Manning and environmental educator Abby Smith shared information about their work with ocean surface current drifters along the eastern coast of the United States. Students participated in a hands-on activity where they experimented with materials to build models that float and drift. Jim generously donated a drifter to Truro Central School, along with the sails that the students helped measure, cut, and decorate. This was STEM in action with an additional arts component.
Stacey’s collaboration with NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center and NOAA’s Outreach and Education on Protected Species resulted from meeting with NOAA scientists and staff during New England Teacher at Sea Alumni Workshops. She and the scientists wanted to bring real-life science into the hands of the students and hope to make this an annual event that can serve as a model for other schools in the region.
Read more about NOAA Ocean Day at Truro Central School in this Cape Cod Times article.