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NASA Aquarius New Global Salinity Data: Spicing up STEM in the Classroom - 04.05.2012

At the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) 2012 National Conference (28 Mar – 1 Apr) held in the US "heartland" city of Indianapolis, Indiana, COSEE-OS teamed up with the NASA Aquarius Education and Public Outreach Team to offer educators three very different venues in which COSEE-OS tools and processes were used to explore NASA Aquarius global sea surface salinity (SSS) datasets. Venues included a 1-hr hands-on NASA workshop, two 20-min demonstration talks at the NASA Exhibit Booth, and a 30-min presentation during the day-long COSEE session. Global salinity is an important measurement for helping scientists understand more fully the processes "at work" in ocean circulation, the global water cycle, and climate change.

 Cover of PPT presentation
Aquarius Workshop

During the NASA workshop, Phoebe Jekielek, COSEE-OS Marine Education Associate, introduced educators to Aquarius resources and provided guidance on how to incorporate them into a STEM curriculum. The workshop drew a crowd of 23 educators from around the country interested in learning how to utilize Aquarius SSS data, including four educators from American Samoa searching for accessible resources to illustrate important ocean concepts in island classrooms. Educators were directed to the Aquarius webinar series, based on scientist-constructed concept maps, that deconstruct complex ocean science, technology, and engineering concepts involved in the Aquarius mission. Throughout the workshop, educators asked questions and shared classroom experiences. In addition, educators participated in a hands-on, inquiry-based classroom activity illustrating the effects of density on stratification in the ocean (Teaching Physical Concepts in Oceanography) which lead to an open discussion of other classroom activities to illustrate similar concepts. Phoebe also introduced to the Interactive Salinity Tool in which salinity, temperature and density data sets from the World Ocean Atlas can be graphed and manipulated to encourage students to explore the variability of and physical influences on global salinity. Participants walked away with information on how to access all tools and resources from the session to utilize upon return to their home classrooms!

Download the Aquarius/SAC-D Education and Outreach Resources Brochure here (PDF, 5.22 MB).

Aquarius Booth

Christy Herren, COSEE-OS Research Associate, had a unique opportunity at the NASA Exhibit Booth to showcase Aquarius datasets and visualizations on a high definition monitor hooked up to high-speed internet connection, and talk in-depth in an informal atmosphere with educators from across the US. Educators shared how they could use Aquarius materials/content with their students in the classroom, and had a chance to try out the new Aquarius Interactive Globe and online concept mapping tool (CLIMB).

COSEE Session

Ocean current 

In the COSEE session, Christy presented a talk titled NASA Aquarius New Global Salinity Data: Spicing up STEM in the Classroom. She shared stories, datasets and materials from the Aquarius mission emphasizing "the entire package" that Aquarius has to offer educators and students, including defined student outcomes and archived webinars of Aquarius scientists talking about their research on land, sea and in space. Throughout the conference, Phoebe and Christy found ample one-on-one interaction time with interested educators - a condition that sets the stage for true collaboration in the future!

View Christy's PPT presentation and accompanying animations here.

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