Maine Researchers, Teacher Begin Scientific Cruise

Submitted by Barbara Powers, Superintendent of Long Island School.

A unique educational opportunity launches on January 24, when a Maine teacher sets sail for the Southern Ocean as part of a Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences team. This partnership with the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance’s “WeatherBlur” education project will bring the experience of an ocean research cruise to students in Maine and beyond.

“Research cruises are tremendously exciting, and sharing that excitement is a great way to interest students in science,” said Senior Research Scientist Barney Balch. “The ocean is endlessly fascinating, and learning about its vital role is essential to understanding life on Earth.”

Marci Train, a teacher at the two-room Long Island School in Casco Bay, will join Balch and several other Bigelow Laboratory scientists in order to engage students throughout the National Science Foundation-funded cruise. The research team aims to investigate how algae in the Southern Ocean may be affecting the future of sea life as far away as the Northern Hemisphere.

Marci Train with students

Throughout the cruise, Train will connect frequently with students in Maine and beyond. She will conduct video tours of the ship to show what a day at sea looks like, post learning materials on the WeatherBlur website, and share photos on social media. She will also assist with scientific operations and help conduct experiments.

“I can’t wait to have a first-hand experience with a scientific research project, and I think it is important for teachers to show their students that you are never too old to learn new information,” Train said. “It is important to get out of your comfort zone and share your own learning experiences with your students.”

Coccolithophores are a common type of algae that help form the base of ocean food webs, and they play a significant role in global chemical and carbon cycles. Balch recently found that they are remarkably scarce in the fertile waters near the equator, and his team aims to learn why during this cruise.

The Southern Ocean and equator are connected by an important ocean layer called “Sub-Antarctic mode water,” which forms at the surface of the Southern Ocean, sinks, and flows to the equator over a 40-year journey. Balch suspects that booming coccolithophore populations in the Southern Ocean are depleting its supply of essential nutrients before Sub-Antarctic mode water flows north, making the water layer sub-optimal for coccolithophore growth by the time it reaches the equator.

While at sea, the team will use satellite imagery to locate eddies rich in coccolithophores, whose chalk shells are so reflective that they can be seen from space. By measuring water properties in these eddies and collecting water to conduct onboard experiments, the researchers hope to uncover how coccolithophores in the Southern Ocean are altering this important source of nutrients before its long journey towards the equator.

“Sub-Antarctic mode water travels far north from where it forms, and it exerts a staggering level of control on much of the global ocean,” Balch said. “If coccolithophores are changing its essential properties, then they could be influencing which species grow in food webs as far away as the equator or even in the Northern Hemisphere.”

The team will use a creative approach to calculate how fast this water layer changes. The ship will follow Sub-Antarctic mode water for more than 1,000 miles on its journey to the Indian Ocean. As they measure the water’s basic properties, they will also collect samples at depth to measure freons, manufactured refrigerants that can be found throughout the environment.

Freons have constantly changed since their invention in the 1950s – a fact that today allows scientists to detect when water was last at the surface and exposed to freons in the atmosphere. Back on shore, a team from the University of Miami will determine which types of freons are present in different parcels of Sub-Antarctic mode water along the ship’s transect.

“Freons are a great timekeeper for the age of water,” Balch said. “We’ll use their time signatures to figure out how long it took a sample of Sub-Antarctic mode water to arrive where we found it, and to understand how quickly the water is changing as it’s moving north.”

The researchers will investigate these questions over 38 days aboard the RV Thomas Thompson. The team will depart from South Africa and return to the island of Mauritius in early March. The Bigelow Laboratory InstagramFacebook, and Twitter accounts will post updates during the cruise, as will the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

This cruise is the latest research topic to be explored by WeatherBlur, an online citizen science community funded by National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The project brings together students, teachers, community members, and scientists, who collaborate to ask questions, design scientific investigations, and bring back data and findings to discuss with each other.

Currently, WeatherBlur engages six Maine schools, as well as two schools from Mississippi and one school from Alabama. Train’s outreach from the cruise will be followed by more than 1,300 students and 26 teachers.

“I think this will be a wonderful opportunity for students to see all the different career options onboard a research vessel, including positions in research and on the crew,” Train said. “It’s important that students are exposed to STEM in action, and I can’t wait for them to be immersed in this experience and see how big scientific questions get answered.”

Reminder: Register for Maine School Winter Wellness Summit on Jan 31

Life is Good, Wellness Makes It Better! The goal of the Winter Wellness Summit is to prepare and empower participants to create healthy, positive and safe schools for all school personnel and students by promoting policies and environmental practices that support healthier schools, improve personal health and well-being, and enhance academic achievement.

When: Thursday, January 30 and Friday, January 31
Where: The Samoset Resort, Rockport, ME
Audience: Any Individual and/or Wellness Team interested in tools and resources for supporting the health and well-being of Staff, Students and the School
Communities
Cost: Early registration until Dec 27 – $125/person*
Regular registrations after Dec 28 – $145/person *

~~ Contact Hours Awarded ~~

*Morning refreshments and lunch both days and dinner Thursday evening included in all registrations.

Sessions will address Physical-Emotional-Mental-Social-Spiritual & Occupational
dimensions of health with a special emphasis this year on Mental Wellness for all!

  • Engaging Workshops on Personal Wellness Practices
  • Programs & Leadership Skills
  • Action Planning
  • Positive School Environments
  • Wellness Exhibit Expo
  • Worksite Wellness Program Planning

Check out info on the two outstanding keynotes, Murray Banks and George Manning along with up-to-date details and a draft agenda for the 2020 Maine School Winter Wellness Summit on the Maine DOE Website’s Employee and Student Wellness web page.

Time is built into the schedule to practice taking care of YOU and to network with colleagues and professionals from across the state who value schoolsite health promotion and wellness.

DON’T MISS THIS AWESOME PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY!
Join us for the first Winter Wellness Summit, a component of the Maine Schoolsite Health Promotion Program, a program of the Maine Department of Education!

Register here for the Winter Wellness Summit

Accommodations:

Accommodations are on your own, but we have secured a block of rooms at an excellent rate at The Samoset Resort for the State per diem rate of $122 prior to taxes for Single/Double Occupancy. Please note that in order to be tax exempt you must bring documentation.

To book a room at The Samoset Resort:
1 – Click on this link: The Samoset Resort (Do not call for reservations)
2 – Enter the date(s) of your reservation, have a credit card ready
3 – Ignore the next two dropdown buttons
4 – Click on the SEARCH button
5 – Proceed with instructions
The last day to book from the block of reserved rooms is Friday, December 27, 2019.
After December 27, the rate will be honored if rooms are still available.

For more information and questions contact Susan Berry, Maine Department of Education Health Education and Health Promotion Coordinator at 207-624-6695 or susan.berry@maine.gov.

Trauma Informed Readiness and Response Planning Workshop

As the most requested support topic from the field,  we at the Department of Education hear of the extensive impact that trauma, mental health and the opioid crisis are having on our schools. We are taking action to support educators in addressing the increased needs of our students through the use of trauma informed practices. To begin this partnership and support, we will be hosting an interactive conference on Trauma Informed Readiness and Response Planning.

When: Friday, January 24th, 2020

Time: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM (Lunch is provided)

Location: University of Maine, Wells Conference Center, Orono.

This is a grant funded opportunity for schools to receive guided support in the development of their individualized emergency plans for a trauma free and trauma responsive environment. Funding for this opportunity is available for up to 65 teams, and can include covering the costs of travel and substitutes for the day. An application and commitment to attend are required; these will be accepted until December 20th, 2019.

Application for Individual School Participation 

A preview of questions in the application is below:
Name of School:
School District:
Primary Contact (person with whom all communication and arrangements go through):
Contact Phone/Email/Address:
3 Team Members and their roles at the school (3 people are required for the activities planned):
Describe the top three areas of need for your school around this topic, and why work on a responsive plan will help you overcome these. 

A final agenda and confirmation for teams will be forthcoming after the closing of the application window. For questions, contact Jessica Nixon at Jessica.Nixon@maine.gov.

 

Mid-winter Boost:  2020 Maine School Winter Wellness Summit, Life is Good, Wellness Makes It Better!

Taking care of the health and well-being of staff and students has become more and more critical given the many stresses of the world in which we all live. Register today for the Maine School Winter Wellness Summit, Life is Good, Wellness Makes It Better! being held January 30 & 31, 2020 at The Samoset Resort, Rockport, to bolster your school wellness program. Attendees will learn strategies and be exposed to tools and resources available from state and national sources that address the six dimensions of wellness: mental, emotional, physical, social, spiritual and​ occupational health. However, this year there will be a special emphasis on Mental Wellness for all! The Summit will include inspiring, interactive keynote presentations each day, engaging workshops on personal wellness practices, creating positive school environments, healthy school culture and climate for staff and students, leadership skills, emerging health issues and action planning for wellness!

January 30th OPENING KEYNOTE:

grey haired man, laughingMurray Banks is a motivational speaker and world champion athlete with roots in teaching school. He lives life with a passion for health and well-being every day. This year he will focus his message on the importance of positivity on one’s overall health using hilarious images, imaginative videos, and poignant classroom and personal stories that will inspire all of us.

 

Salt and pepper haired man with moustache and glasses, smilingJanuary 31st OPENING KEYNOTE:  George Manning returns to the Wellness Summit with more tools, resources and insights focused on life, work and the pursuit of balance. He will engage the audience with his enchanting personality and stories that come from more than 40 years of experience teaching psychology at the collegiate level and traveling the country helping organizations and businesses develop healthy and productive work environments.

The goal of the Summit is to prepare and empower participants to create healthy, positive and safe schools for all school personnel and students by promoting policies and environmental practices that support healthier schools, improve personal health and well-being, and enhance academic achievement.  Click here for up-to-date details, draft agenda and session information on the 2020 Maine School Winter Wellness Summit and follow The Samoset Resort link to reserve rooms at the special group rate.

Individuals and teams interested in Schoolsite Health Promotion and wellness are encourage to attend. One low cost for two-days, meals included. Early registration is open through December 27 for $125/person and regular registration after December 28 is $145/person.

Join us for the first fully engaging and educational Winter Wellness Summit, a component of the Maine Department of Education’s Schoolsite Health Promotion Program.

Maine Educators Celebrated at Annual Teacher of the Year Gala

The Teacher of the Year Program hosted its annual Gala this past weekend on Saturday, November 16th at Portland Sheraton at Sable Oaks. The event honors Maine educators that have been named County Teacher of the Year and Teacher of the Year with a banquet, reception, and awards ceremony.

IMG_3222The event featured remarks from 2019 Teacher of the Year Joseph Hennessey, an English Teacher at Piscataquis Community High School who is finishing his year-long designation as the 2019 Teacher of the Year. Commissioner Makin received a standing ovation as she urged all present to elevate the status of educators in Maine, as their work is the single most important assurance of a thriving democracy.  Incoming 2020 Teacher of the Year Heather Whitaker also addressed the audience, reminding the audience that the foundation of learning is built on relationships of trust and compassion. Ms. Whitaker was presented with a custom Maine licence plate from Maine’s Secretary of State, Mathew Dunlap, a tradition each year.

During the Awards ceremony, County Teachers of the Year were each provided with a crystal apple award, a County Teacher of the Year banner, totes filled with Maine products donated by Maine businesses (sponsored by Live and Work in Maine), in addition to free registration to the annual ACTEM Conference (provided by ACTEM). 

In addition to the above awards, Semi Finalists, State Finalists, and the Teacher of the Year each received a hand thrown pottery bowl with their names on it (sponsored by Maine TOY Association and Maine State Board of Education). The Teacher of the Year was also given an IPad (provided by ACTEM).

2019 County Teachers of the YearAndroscoggin County, Shawn Rice; Aroostook County, Kim Barnes; Cumberland County, Heather Whitaker; Franklin County, Robert Taylor; Hancock County, Nell Herrmann; Kennebec County: Emily Bowen; Knox County, Thomas Gray; Oxford County, Linda Andrews; Penobscot County, Tracy Deschaine; Piscataquis County, Bobbi Tardif; Sagadahoc County, Charles Bingham; Somerset County, Katherine Bertini; Waldo County, Ashley Reynolds; Washington County, Jeanna Carver; York County, Ethel Atkinson.

Semi Finalists: Jeanna Carver, Tracy Deschaine, Thomas Gray, Ashley Reynolds, Shawn Rice, Bobbi Tardif, Robert Taylor, Heather Whitaker

State finalists: Thomas GrayRobert Taylor, Heather Whitaker

2020 Teacher of the Year: Heather Whitaker

The event also includes keynote remarks and honors for many of the program’s partners and sponsors including Educate Maine, who administers the program, the Maine Department of Education, and the Maine State Board of Education. Funding for the program is generously provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, Maine Lottery, and Pratt and Whitney.

The Teacher of the Year Program is a year-long process that, each year, through a rigorous selection process, names an educator from each county as County Teacher of the Year, and names one educator as Maine Teacher of the Year. Any educator can be nominated by a member of their community for the Teacher of the Year Program. The nomination process begins in January each year.