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published on 08/26/2008

Educators Explore an Eerie Underwater World

Communications Manager Tennessee Aquarium & IMAX Theater

A deep sea anemone. - Courtesy NOAA
Just because school is back in session doesn’t mean students are eager to dive into studying subjects like science. Sometimes teachers are left high and dry while fishing for attention and trying to boost classroom performance. But a new educator workshop offered at the Tennessee Aquarium may help inspire tech-savvy kids by examining the world of weirdness that lies underwater.

Our planet is two-thirds water, yet we know more about the Moon than our oceans. Technology now allows researchers to explore the deepest locations on Earth, uncovering weird life forms that not only look like aliens from another world; they are found in places scientists previously did not think life could exist. Weird alien life-forms are lurking in our oceans? That just might be the hook teachers need to get students excited about science. Thanks to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant, the Tennessee Aquarium will help educators bring these discoveries into the classroom. “This NOAA Ocean Exploration Program deals with cutting edge technology and the most recent, exciting discoveries of this largely unknown portion of our world,” said George Bartnik, education programs manager at the Tennessee Aquarium. “This workshop dovetails with our lessons about the oceans and how what we do on land affects life in the oceans.

Stacia Fletcher, school programs manager from Monterey Bay Aquarium will lead educators on a virtual excursion around the undersea world from the Galapagos Rift to the Arctic Ocean. Teachers will find out what researchers have discovered about glow-in-the-dark corals, worms that live more than one mile underwater and other specially adapted creatures from the deep.

Attendees will also receive copies of Learning Ocean Science through Ocean Exploration curriculum, companion CD, and posters for their classrooms. All of the activities contained in the book and CD are geared to science standards and are ready to use in the classroom. “I have teachers tell me they like the fact the lessons are ready to implement, require little preparation time and heightens student interest in science by engaging them with activities,” said Bartnik. “And educators believe that these workshops can boost student performance on standardized tests.”

Thirty area teachers have registered for this new workshop which will be held Saturday, August 23rd. The NOAA grant ensures another professional development workshop will be offered at the Tennessee Aquarium in August of 2009.

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