14:24 PM

Pa. Member Sets Sail on NOAA Research Cruise

Allison Irwin, the Pennsylvania Wing's internal aersoapce education officer as well as a high school teacher, is participating on a 19-day coastal pelagic species survey in the Pacific Ocean.

Irwin is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Teacher at Sea program, which bridges science and education through real-world research experiences.

It's all part of a wide range of interests for Irwin. She focuses on aerospace education for Civil Air Patrol, and she's a literacy and reading strategies teacher at Wilson High School in West Lawn, Pennsylvania.

“Through my experience with NOAA, my high school students will not only be able to learn first-hand about exciting research projects at sea and unique career opportunities, they will be, on some level, participants in this experience as well!” Irwin said.

“NOAA empowers teachers to face challenges head-on, learn new content, and relive the life of a student again while at sea under the direction of the chief scientist and NOAA officers. This style of professional development will not only allow me to empathize with my students when they struggle with challenges in my classroom, but it will also enrich my curriculum in a way that would not be obtainable via traditional professional development programs.”

Irwin boarded NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker on Sunday in Newport, Oregon. She’ll work with scientists daily as they conduct a coastal pelagic species survey. She’ll also be writing a blog about her experience. In addition, updates are available on Facebook and Twitter.

"NOAA's Teacher at Sea program gives teachers the professional opportunity of a lifetime with a chance to participate in cutting-edge science, on the ocean, working side-by-side with world-renowned scientists,” said Jennifer Hammond, the program’s director. “Teachers describe this authentic research experience as transformative and one that allows them to bring new knowledge and excitement back to their classrooms.”

Now in its 29th year, the program has provided more than 800 teachers the opportunity to gain first-hand experience participating in science at sea. This year, NOAA received applications from nearly 300 teachers, then chose 19 to participate in research cruises. The educators are able to enrich their curricula with the depth of understanding they gain by living and working alongside scientists studying the marine environment.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine resources.