14:50 PM

La. Aerospace Education Member Sails as CITGO Nautilus Ambassador

Jennifer Gerhardt
Contributing Writer

One of Civil Air Patrol’s aerospace education members spent a week this summer expanding her horizons to include the Pacific Ocean.

Katherine Gertz was one of four educators who sailed July 29-Aug. 5 aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus during its summer expedition off the central California coast. The four were selected for the 2017 CITGO Nautilus Ambassador Program by CITGO Petroleum Corp. and the Ocean Exploration Trust.

“Being selected was such an honor,” said Gertz, a teacher at E.K. Key Elementary School in Sulphur, Louisiana. “I feel this experience will help me continue to inspire children to explore the world around them. It has given me a paradigm shift in the way I view education, especially STEM.

“I am more focused now on problem-solving, working in a team, synergizing, and observing in order to ask and answer great questions. Before this I taught information; now I encourage exploration;” she said.

The teachers saw first-hand how deep-sea exploration and research is conducted. Nautilus Ambassadors also saw at-sea science, technology, engineering, communications and education during their time on board while shadowing professionals in each field.

“I am so thrilled to have worked with scientists from the United States and from around the world onboard the E/V Nautilus,” Gertz said. “I was able to work in the wet lab, process samples and sit in on talks given by experts in their field. It was so inspirational to be able to see and work with these great scientists and engineers as they conducted research and explored areas of the deep ocean that had not been seen before.”

The teachers, along with scientists and engineers, were able to interact with audiences via Nautilus Live. The program connects people on the boat with audiences on land.

“One of the major goals of our Nautilus Exploration Program is to inspire the next generation of explorers in STEM fields,” said Allison Fundis, OET’s vice president of Education, Outreach and Communications. “We are very excited to provide educators and students with the direct experience of ocean exploration, while allowing them the opportunity to share that experience with their peers around the world.”