Imagine you are a 9th grade science teacher and you have only 50 minutes to inspire a group of 16-year olds to see science for what it is to you – an adventure! Those are the shoes that Carrie Armbrecht and I tried to fill when Ted Taylor asked us to teach his five Earth Science classes at Bangor High School (Bangor, Maine) on March 2, 2011. Call us crazy but we were very excited about it!

In that short timespan, our job was to teach the students how to create concept maps using the COSEE-OS online concept mapping tools: Concept Map Builder and Ocean Climate Interactive. Carrie and I decided we first needed to 'trick' the students into being interested in us, so we entered the classroom armed with pretty maps of the oceans we study, colorful photos from our travels around the world, and personal stories of how we got inspired to become marine scientists. Seeing the honest interest on the students faces and hearing their curious questions about us, I think our plan worked out better than expected.

At first we were nervous about how clear our instructions were and whether they would all keep up and finish their maps on time. We quickly relaxed and began enjoying ourselves when we saw how most students were going wild with their concept maps, adding funky colors and trying out new things on their own. After all, that's what concept mapping is about – fostering creativity and individual thinking.

Maybe some day these students will understand that science is also about being creative and not being afraid to make mistakes...then maybe they'll dare to embark on the great adventure with science that Carrie and I are having with oceanography. We're grateful to Ted for inviting us to teach his classes. We got a lot out of it — being on the other side of the desk, so to speak — and maybe we helped him plant some seeds of interest for scientific inquiry among his students.

Artur Palacz is a Ph.D. candidate in Oceanography at the University of Maine.