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Some intriguing questions from the ROLE Model webinars
08/20/2010 | Medea Steinman, (Ocean Systems)
Tags: ROLE Model Webinar, hydrothermal vents, oil spill, 08.10.10 webinar, 07.28.10 webinar

This summer, educators and other professionals from across the U.S. participated in online presentations by scientists on two fascinating topics: 1) oil spill impacts on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and 2) hydrothermal vent ecosystems. They also heard from educator-colleagues about ways to implement concept mapping in the classroom and in collaborative projects.

The enthusiasm for these science topics was evident in the pre-webinar questions we received. With respect to the Gulf, the oil spill disaster of this summer is obviously weighing on people’s minds. It’s also clear that educators anticipate a lot of interest on the topic from their students this fall, so teachers are hungry for information that is grounded in up-to-the-minute scientific research. The news can be confusing. Where can people get access to clear, evidence-based explanations from scientists? COSEE-Ocean Systems is finding ways to offer that access through these webinars.

In the pre-webinar survey, survey respondents asked outstanding questions about the oil spill. Some of these were discussed in the webinar and others will be addressed in this blog, such as:
  • “How far will the oil travel? What is the possibility, if any, that this oil will actually reach the Maine coast, for example?”
  • “How are ROVs employed to document and manage the problem?”

We’d also like to invite educators to share ideas they have in response to questions such as these:

  • “I'd love to hear ideas of how to include either a mini unit or an ongoing larger unit on how the oil spill is affecting the ecosystem.”
  • “I’d like to know how … it can become a component of my course without becoming the entire course!”

On the subject of hydrothermal vents, there were also some very intriguing questions from survey respondents.

  • “It would be interesting to discuss hydrothermal vent systems as a potential location for the origin of life; and how does this information help our understanding of possible life on other planets?”
  • “How does one design a research project without knowing the field site well?”
  • “Are these vents being looked at as an economic source for a company or government?”

Ocean Systems plans to invite experts (including some of the scientists who have presented in the webinars) onto this blog to respond to these kinds of questions. So stay tuned and please join in those discussions!

By the way, it’s extremely easy to participate in these webinars. All you need is a phone and a good internet connection. If you’re not already receiving our webinar announcements and would like to, please send your contact information to Carla Companion at

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