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The Ocean – Live! Anywhere! Anytime!

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Originally appears in the Spring 2011 issue

Are you looking for a new way to teach science and math skills to your students that they – and you – can get excited about?  Or maybe you’re simply trying to make classroom lessons more relevant to your students and what’s going on in the world around them.  Whatever your motivation, incorporating data from ocean observing systems into your activities and lessons will provide a unique perspective on teaching traditional STEM skills and concepts.

Ocean literacy is defined as “having an understanding the ocean’s influence on you, and your influence on the ocean.”  While the concept is rich with teaching possibilities, it requires many interactive approaches to suit different ages, learning levels and styles.  One way to promote ocean literacy in the classroom is to use measurements taken regularly from selected locations on the open or coastal ocean. This information, called “real time data” because it becomes available almost as soon as it’s measured, allows anyone with internet access to connect with a monitoring location, whether it’s down the road or halfway around the world.  Over time, you can get a feel for the rhythms of a site from hour to hour, season to season, and even year to year.  These data can also be used to learn about large-scale events like tsunamis, hurricanes, harmful algal blooms, and coastal flooding.

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Ali L. Hochberg lives in Florida and works for the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center and the American Institute of Biological Sciences.  She is currently working toward her M.S. in Science Education at Montana State University.