Winter 2013 – Education Corner

Skyping to students. L-R: USF Dean Jackie Dixon and Patty Smukall. Photo Credit: C-IMAGE.

Skyping to students. L-R: USF Dean Jackie Dixon and Patty Smukall. Photo Credit: C-IMAGE.

(From Winter 2013 Newsletter) by Sherryl Gilbert, C-IMAGE

The Center for Integrated Modeling & Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE) is a comprehensive research consortium of 13 national and international universities tasked with evaluating the environmental impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (DWH) on coastal ecosystems, the water column, and the sea floor. C-IMAGE research cruises provide an opportunity for Florida’s 6-12th grade teachers to participate in authentic field research at sea alongside ocean scientists.

In 2012, C-IMAGE hosted two such educational cruises. The August cruise surveyed fish health and sediment chemistry and hosted Patty Smukall, a science teacher from Wekiva High School in Orange County, Florida. The November cruise focused on the biological studies of toxicity, microplankton community health, and the abundance and distribution of plankton and welcomed Eileen Hayes from Cape Coral, Florida and Abby Madeiros from Madiera Beach Middle School.

While taking part in these cruises, teachers, as members of the actual scientific party, work 12-hour shifts deploying sampling gear and collecting fish, plankton, and sediment cores for analysis. By day, K-12 and college students join the expeditions via live Skype events hosted by the onboard teachers and scientists. These interactive sessions include tours of the vessel, views of research on deck, and interviews with scientists, crew members, and the ship captain. By night, teachers share the science as it unfolds aboard the ship with K-12 and adult learners via daily blogs and social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) in collaboration with scientists, post docs, and graduate students. Each also shares favorite seagoing stories, career paths, and further details about ongoing research.

Nearly 700 students remotely participated in these two expeditions. Preliminary results are reported from teacher surveys, blog posts, student comments, and social media metrics.

  • 26 blog posts (
  • Over 10,000 re-tweets (source, USF Mass Communications)
  • 10 schools directly participated via Skype broadcasts
  • ~ 146 student questions answered live or via email

[Back to the Winter 2013 Newsletter]