Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef Expedition 201
Mission Information
 

Sunday: June 12, 2011
Log Day 1

Cathy Sakas; Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary

Kim Morris-Zarneke of the Georgia Aquarium gives workshop overview in Ocean Classroom

Kim Morris-Zarneke of the Georgia Aquarium gives workshop overview in Ocean Classroom
(Photo: Cathy Sakas, GRNMS)

Everyone arrived at our hotel, the Hampton Inn near Georgia Tech, our designated meeting place. We then traveled the short distance to the Aquarium's Ocean Classroom where a delicious dinner of sandwiches and wraps, giant cookies, gourmet chips and iced-down drinks awaited us. With the dinner as an incentive, the teachers had to complete a pre-test concept map before they could dive into the goodies. While finishing up the fantastic fare we introduced ourselves to each other by stating our name, where we lived and at what school we taught at and our favorite dessert. It seems chocolate in one way or another was the favorite among the majority.

Viewing the whale sharks from the surface of Georgia Aquarium's Great Ocean Tank

Viewing the whale sharks from the surface of Georgia Aquarium's Great Ocean Tank
(Photo: Cathy Sakas, GRNMS)

With daylight waning Kim Morris-Zarneke of the Georgia Aquarium spirited us off for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Aquarium starting in the Tropical Diver Exhibit where the wave tank with an enormous trough fills with ocean water then dumps periodically with an overwhelmingly thunderous roar to simulate the high energy of the surf. We were fascinated with the intricate system by which the water is cleaned and purified to prevent nitrification from the waste of the animals. The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the world and maintaining the water system to keep the animals healthy and happy is an tremendous undertaking.

Workshop participants above the Tropical Diver tank

Workshop participants above the Tropical Diver tank
(Photo: Cathy Sakas, GRNMS)

We took time to read the River of Words display that highlights poetry and art of K-12 students from all over Georgia in celebration of water, any and all bodies of water. Each work is truly inspirational and amazing in the depth of understanding and skills it took to create each selection. Next we took time to view the belugas in the Aqua Lab with exhibits and tanks funded by NOAA Gray's Reef.

Participants observing belugas from behind-the-scenes

Participants observing belugas from behind-the-scenes
Photo: Cathy Sakas, GRNMS

Back in the Ocean Classroom we viewed a documentary of Rivers to Reefs created by a local television crew in 2009. Based on the number of amused yet somewhat nervous giggles at seeing what others have endured before them, our crew seems ready to embrace the week's arduous schedule and immersion experiences. Writing daily their thoughts, ideas, reactions and emotions in journals will help them remember their experiences and will provide a personal resource as they develop lesson plans for their future classes.

One key concept that was introduced and reinforced throughout the evening session was the idea of connections. The teachers, who are now the students, will make connections to their lives and their classrooms on what they will experience this week. In addition, the lessons learned will be introduced into the various classrooms around the state and a new set of connections to the water resources of Georgia, including Gray's Reef and our ocean, will be introduced and reinforced.

Manta Ray from surface of Great Ocean Tank

Manta Ray from surface of Great Ocean Tank
Photo: Cathy Sakas, GRNMS

All of our teachers have students who will never see the ocean. They will however see their watershed and that watershed will most likely be the only connection these students will have to their ocean.

The enthusiasm, information and materials our teachers will gain from this workshop will give them the confidence and credibility to teach about our watersheds and more importantly impart ocean stewardship through their watersheds.

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