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Teacher returns from 18 day oceanic research trip hoping to give students perspective and opportunitiesSubmitted: 04/24/2015

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ASHLAND - An Ashland High School science teacher has returned from a multiple week oceanic research experience to start passing on her new knowledge.

Theresa Paulsen earned a spot on the research vessel National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) Ship Okeanos Explorer after applying for the journey through the NOAA Teachers at Sea program. Paulsen says the ship's sole purpose is to explore the ocean.

"So that way scientists can come up with hypothesizes," Paulsen said.

It's a crucial part of the scientific process, and it's something Paulsen saw firsthand. Paulsen says students in the Midwest don't know enough about oceans, and she wants that to change, especially with the oceans impact on Earth's climate. She says she didn't know as much as she wanted on the topic, so she was looking to learn in the field.

"I was specifically looking for a way that I could learn more about the oceans, ocean research and how it's done," Paulsen said.

Much like the Okeanos, Paulsen found something. She applied, and earned an 18 day Atlantic Ocean research trip on the Okeanos. She says the trip, which started in late March and ended in early April, was fascinating. Researchers focused on mapping the sea floor near Puerto Rico using tools like sonar.

Paulsen says it's an area of the seafloor that has never been mapped before, and she said it was awesome seeing the technology piece together the first-ever mapping of the area.

"It's awesome, but [workers] still have to get out your chart, and you still have to get out your compass and verify that radar is giving you the right information," Paulsen said.

Paulsen's students could also keep track of the information. She used an online blog to post videos, pictures and data while on the trip. Retired teachers helped work with Paulsen's students while was away. She hopes her exploration gives her students more perspective.

"We're in kind of a small bubble in a small town, so you need to open up and expand their horizons and make them think about their place in the world," Paulsen said.

Paulsen says it was enlightening too see the real life application of things like waves and their interactions with sound and light, which she already teaches to students in class.

She's returned with those experiences to craft better content for students to simulate what researchers were doing in the ocean. It's a small taste of the research, but Paulsen hopes it lays the foundation for a life of learning.

"Learning needs to continue forever, until you drop dead, you need to be learning because there is so much out there that we don't know," Paulsen said.

The stories from Paulsen's 18 day journey could help students get there. She also says the experience will help her guide students and answer questions about opportunities and careers related to her experience.

A link to Paulsen's online blog is below.


Related Weblinks:
NOAA Teacher at Sea - Paulsen

Story By: Adam Fox

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