Category Archives: science education

National award will allow more students to experience the Georgia coast

A $50,000 Hollings Award from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation will pay for 850 fourth graders from Liberty and McIntosh counties to experience Georgia’s coastal environment and Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary during field trips to the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island.

Marine Extension associate director Anne Lindsay shows a corn snake to a group of students.

“We are extremely excited about this opportunity,” said Mark Risse, director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, which oversees the education center and aquarium. “Reaching these historically underserved communities with hands-on, field-oriented educational programs is often difficult due to transportation and economic issues. This funding will allow us to target our efforts just for them and provide free transportation and programs.”

In addition, the grant will allow UGA and Gray’s Reef to offer free programs on Georgia’s estuarine systems and offshore habitats at a school in each county, extending the education to students’ families.

“These communities are located in watersheds that impact the waters around Gray’s Reef. We hope that our efforts will influence the decisions they make and benefit the coastal ecosystems surrounding the sanctuary,” Risse said.

Enhancements to the Gray’s Reef exhibit at the UGA Aquarium are also included as part of the project. A new wall-mounted monitor and graphics will feature underwater video footage of the reef and provide information to aquarium visitors about the National Marine Sanctuary Program.

The award is one of five 2017 grants totaling $215,000 from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s Hollings Awards, an annual program designed to expand public awareness of conservation issues.

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Aron and Kevin attend Chile conference

Aron Stubbins and Kevin Ryan attended the 1st IberAmericano Limonology Conference in early November where Aron gave a plenary talk and chaired a symposium, and Kevin gave a talk in Spanish. Aron’s talk was on the Pulse-Shunt Concept, which is a new concept for the cycling and transport of river carbon. This was in connection with his NSF Macrosystems grant. Kevin’s talk addressed continuous assessment of carbon cycling and transport in the Connecticut River – part of the Pulse-Shunt NSF Macrosystems project.

The following week, they visited the Universidad Austral de Chile’s Coastal Research Center and their Limnological Research Center.

Kevin (right) with a Chilean grad student (cewnter) and Jorge Nimptsch, Aron's collaborator and professor at Universidad Austral de Chile

Kevin (right) with a Chilean grad student (center) and Jorge Nimptsch, Aron’s collaborator and professor at Universidad Austral de Chile

“We also visited some rivers we are studying that are being impacted by salmon farming and some streams draining native and non-native forest, that we are also studying,” Aron said.

Aron also gave a public lecture sponsored by the “American Corner”, a US Embassy Sponsored program. The talk was at the Centro de Estudios Científicos (Center for Scientific Studies; http://www.cecs.cl/website/index.php/en/acerca-del-cecs) and attended by high school children, the public and local scientific community.

Registration is now open for the 2017 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit

yocs-savannahUGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant is hosting Georgia’s third annual Youth Ocean Conservation Summit on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island. This summit, one of several taking place across the country, empowers students with the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to successfully implement ocean conservation projects.

The event will include skill-building workshops, brainstorming sessions, citizen science presentations and panels featuring professionals working on coastal issues in Georgia. At the end of the day, students will work together to develop and present ideas for conservation efforts that they can lead in their local communities. The event is being organized by the 2016-2017 Georgia Sea Grant Marine Education Interns Kira Krall, Hannah Kittler, Hannah Edwards and McKenna Lyons.

Online registration is open now and closes Jan. 18. The summit is limited to 50 students on a first-come, first-served basis. A $10 registration fee includes lunch and all materials. To register, complete the online registration form and payment.

For more information, visit the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant website http://marex.uga.edu/yocs/.

 

Alexander lab in GIS Day Savannah

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Mike Robinson demonstrates GIS to two visitors.

The Alexander lab participated again as a sponsor with the GIS Day Savannah event hosted by Savannah Area Geographic Information System (SAGIS) on the Savannah State University campus.  This year marked the 10th year for the event which introduced 450 8th grade students along with area business owners, staff, GIS users, and citizens from the local community to demonstrations of real-world applications that are making a difference in our society. GIS Day is celebrated internationally as part of National Geographic’s International Geography Week. The National Geographic Society has sponsored Geography Awareness Week since 1987 to promote geographic literacy in schools, communities, and organizations, with a focus on the education of children.

Arneson joins Brandes lab

Erin Arneson will be working as a research intern in Jay Brandes’s lab through the end of the year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOriginally from Chippewa Fall, Wis., Erin is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in fisheries and wildlife management and a minor in marine biology. She originally came to Savannah to intern in Tara Cox’s lab at Savannah State University, while she figures out the next step in her career. She volunteered on one of Marc Frischer’s doliolid cruises, which evolved into an internship in the Frischer lab working with stable isotopes on the doliolid project. She recently moved to the Brandes lab, where she will be working on developing techniques to extract microplastics from sediment.

Erin plans to attend graduate school, but she is undecided on the direction of her future graduate work.

Georgia Tech-UGA Skidaway Institute grad student defends dissertation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACatherine Edwards’ Ph.D. student, Dongsik Chang, successfully defended his dissertation July 11th in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech. His dissertation was titled “Motion Tomography Performed by Underwater Mobile Sensor Networks.” He was co-advised by Catherine and Fumin Zhang of Georgia Tech.

Dongsik started his Ph.D. work in 2010 at the Georgia Tech Savannah campus, and began work with Catherine in 2011 for the NSF-funded Long Bay project. He developed the GENIoS (Glider Environment Networked Information System), which optimizes navigation of gliders based on information from real time model and observational data streams like HF radar, satellites, and operational ocean models. Dongsik’s dissertation defense focused on the concept of “motion tomography” pioneered by the Skidaway Institute/Georgia Tech glider lab. Similar to medical CT, which reconstructs 3-D images of objects, glider motion tomography uses the displacement of a glider by currents to reconstruct features of the flow field.

“His work bridging oceanography and engineering has been demonstrated to improve the quality of the data that can be collected by gliders, and has major implications for generalized fleets of autonomous underwater vehicles,” Catherine said. “Congratulations, Dongsik!”

Rivers to Reefs

by Michelle Riley

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary

In June, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary hosted the 13th annual Rivers to Reefs Workshop for Educators in association with UGA’s Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, the Georgia Aquarium and Gordon State College. Cathy Sakas, chair of the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and Kim Morris-Zarneke, manager of education programs at Georgia Aquarium, served as the primary leaders of the workshop, with assistance from Theresa Stanley of Gordon State College.  Michelle Riley from Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary served as communications lead.

Rivers to Reefs is an educational expedition for teachers, focused on Georgia’s Altamaha River watershed. During the six-day trip, 16 Georgia science teachers canoed the Oconee, Ocmulgee and Altamaha rivers into the Sapelo estuary, crawled through salt marshes, traveled to Gray’s Reef and trawled the Wilmington River. They learned and explored the connections between the watershed and the ocean.

Teachers Marilyn Kinney (foreground) and Candace Bridges collect water samples in Flat Shoals Creek. Photo: Michelle Riley

Teachers Marilyn Kinney (foreground) and Candace Bridges collect water samples in Flat Shoals Creek. Photo: Michelle Riley

The week was packed with activities that most teachers never experience, beginning with a behind-the-scenes orientation at Georgia Aquarium, and it included an offshore trip to Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary aboard the first working research vessel the educators had ever seen close up, Skidaway Institute’s R/V Savannah. In between, the group explored creeks, waterfalls, rivers and estuaries, and saw an abundance of flora and fauna. They frequently stopped to collect water samples, conduct water quality tests and record environmental factors to determine the overall health of the creeks and streams that flow to the river system. As the week progressed, the teachers developed an understanding of the profound influence the waters flowing through the Altamaha River watershed have on the health of Gray’s Reef and were inspired to teach their students about environmental responsibility and ocean literacy.

Always a highlight of the workshop, the marsh crawl on Sapelo Island was a memorable  experience. The group sloshed on their bellies through the thick dark mud to learn why marshes are considered some of the most important and productive habitats on earth. The estuary that encompasses the salt marsh, where the freshwater from the Altamaha River mixes with the saltwater of the Atlantic, is one of the largest estuary systems on the Atlantic coast.

Waters were calm for the voyage out to Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary on the R/V Savannah under the command of Captain John Bichy, marine superintendent at UGA Skidaway Institute. With extensive assistance from the R/V Savannah crew, the teachers conducted water quality tests at three separate points in the ocean. Meanwhile, the ship’s crew pulled a trawl net through the ocean at midwater depth and brought in many interesting fish, a large pile of Georgia shrimp and a handful of sharks, including a hammerhead and a small Atlantic sharpnose shark. During the trip, the teachers were delighted when they were treated to lessons by Professor Marc Frischer of Skidaway Institute on black gill in shrimp and on pelagic tunicates called doliolids. While in the sanctuary, the crew deployed an underwater camera to allow the teachers to see the reef and its sea creatures in real time, without getting wet.

A group shot on board the R/V Savannah.

A group shot on board the R/V Savannah.

On the final day of Rivers to Reefs, the teachers boarded UGA’s R/V Sea Dawg, a smaller vessel used by the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium, a unit of the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. Captain John “Crawfish” Crawford and Anne Lindsay, associate director for marine education, conducted a field class during the two-hour trawling voyage in the Wilmington River. The teachers recorded the catch for research purposes and ended their trip with a wrap-up by Frischer and the expedition leaders, before scattering across Georgia with great memories and a treasure trove of experiences to pass on to their students this fall.