Biology classes participate in Red Sea expedition correspondence

May 11, 2006, midnight | By Merlyn Deng | 18 years, 2 months ago

Blair one of 15 schools in world chosen to communicate with researchers aboard "Golden Shadow"

Sophomore biology students at Blair have recently been corresponding with coral reef researchers aboard a research vessel in the Red Sea as part of an expedition lead by the Living Oceans Foundation. Every day since May 4, the students have submitted a marine biology-related question for the researchers to answer. The expedition, designed to assess the impact of human and ecological change on coral development, will last for six more days.

According to Magnet biology teacher Pat Miller, Blair was invited to participate in this program along with 15 other schools in the world, which include five American high schools, five schools from United Kingdom and five located in Saudi Arabia. Among the chosen American schools was local area high school, Thomas Jefferson, in Virginia.

Blair's selection meant that the classes would be receiving a unique chance to communicate directly with underwater researchers. "We were invited to interact with the ship called the 'Golden Shadow,'" she said. "Each day, we're allowed to submit one question to the researchers." According to Miller, students bring in questions, and the students vote on a single question to be sent to the researchers each day. After receiving the questions, the scientists choose to answer questions that they feel are pertinent to their current underwater research.

According to their web site, the Living Oceans Foundation has partnered up with the Saudi National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, the Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and other additional organizations to organize the expedition which "involve[s] a comprehensive ecological survey of the Farasan Islands Marine Protected Area in south-central Red Sea."

Miller views the correspondence as a unique opportunity for her biology students. "It's been great," she said. "They get to make connections between what they're learning and real time science," she said. While the Blair science department had initially received the invitation, science teacher Jennifer Kempf referred the chance to Miller, who teaches a separate marine biology course as well as 10th grade Magnet Biology.

So far, the sophomores have posted questions that have been answered everyday. The questions and answers can be viewed here. Sophomore Sean Mbachu said that the expedition is a "great way to interact with students and researchers."

While Miller's class is actively participating in the collaboration, she invites any interested Blair students to submit their marine biology-related questions to her through her BEN e-mail.

The researchers abroad the "Golden Shadow" have recorded a daily log of their findings on the web site in addition to their responses to the students' questions.

Merlyn Deng. Merlyn (Mer - LEEN) has an unhealthy fixation on Silver Chips Online, the Silver Chips Manifesto, red pens and serial commas. When not editing stories and racking her brain for SCO and its readers, she may be found haunting Blair's hallways or downtown Silver Spring. … More »

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