What Are They Doing?

A diverse research team aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGS) Healy conducted sampling along a series of transects over the eastern Bering Sea. Research on the ship was multidisciplinary, as part of the Bering Ecosystem Study, with scientists using a variety of techniques to measure the productivity of the Bering Sea ecosystem. Research teams measured the temperature, salinity and nutrient content of the sea water, changes in sea ice cover, and the concentration of nutrients used and released by phytoplankton. They also conducted surveys of zooplankton, fish, seabirds, and marine mammals such as walruses and seals, to assess the health of these populations. These measurements helped give scientists an indication of the status of the Bering Sea ecosystem and any potential changes occurring in the marine environment that might change the continued use of its resources, and the economic, social and cultural sustainability of the people who depend on it. Click here to go to the Bering Sea Ice Expedition webpage.

Where Are They?

The team traveled on the USCGC Healy in the Bering Sea. The Bering Sea lies to the west of Alaska and to the east of Russia. The team departed from and returned to the port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the most productive fishing port in the United States.

Latest Journals

It's one small ocean out there. I am determined to keep on learning more and more about it. Exactly one week ago, I was on a one day mission on the Robert C. Seamans, a tall ship whose mission is to teach sailing and science. CMORE-Hawaii (The Center for Microbial Oceanography Research and…
Last night was the weekly Science Club meeting. I have a loyal group of about 10 students who are willing to give up sitting in front of a TV, or listening to their music player to spend two hours learning more about science. I don't think I'd want too many more, their questions are so numerous…
Being a subsistance people, the Inupiat rely on the animals from their environment for food. I don't want to mislead the general public to think that skin boats and ivory harpoons are used to hunt whales in the Arctic. Whaling and other subsistance hunting have incorporated modern technology.…
The experience of a lifetime is one of the first things I tell anyone about my adventure in the Arctic. My life has been changing for over a year. I moved from North Carolina and left the formal education classroom to pursue a career as an informal educator at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in…
Dates
-
Location
Bering Sea
Project Funded Title
BEST: Bering Ecosystem Study aboard the USCGC Healy in the Bering Sea
Maggie Prevenas - Teacher
Teacher
Kalama Intermediate School

Maggie Prevenas teaches seventh grade science at Kalama Intermediate School on the island of Maui, Hawaii. She has a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has taught science and computer technology in Wisconsin, Oregon, and Hawaii. A recent National Board Certified teacher, Ms. Prevenas traveled to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2005 and continues to develop creative educational materials related to her experience. Ms. Prevenas was participating in the BEST cruise as a joint PolarTREC and NOAA Teacher at Sea teacher.

Robyn Sweet - Earth/Life Science Coordinator
Earth/Life Science Coordinator
Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

Robyn Sweet is the Earth and Life Sciences Coordinator at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton, Ohio. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Marine Biology with a Chemistry minor. Ms. Staup taught high school science for seven years in Charlotte, North Carolina and coached teams for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl Competition before moving to Ohio. She has been a participant and leader in several science education activities and appreciated the opportunity to share her PolarTREC experience with others.

Emily Davenport - Graduate Student
Graduate Student
Western Washington University

Emily Davenport, a first year graduate student in the Environmental Science Department at Western Washington University, also participated in the research cruise to conduct her thesis research on benthic communities, nutrient cycling, and climate change. At the time, she was a participant in a program funded by the National Science Foundation that places graduate students around the country in middle school science classrooms to improve science education. Ms. Davenport worked with sixth grade students at Nooksack Valley Middle School in Everson, WA and utilized the PolarTREC Virtual Base Camp to interact with students while on the cruise.

Ray Sambrotto - Researcher
Researcher
Columbia University

Raymond Sambrotto is the chief scientist on this Bering Sea Ecosystem Study cruise and studies marine plankton ecology and global nutrient cycles. Dr. Sambrotto has worked from small boats in the Caribbean to major oceanographic programs in the Arabian Sea. He has worked extensively at both poles using icebreakers and submarines to traverse these difficult environments. An important part of Dr. Sambrotto’s research is determining how marine populations will fare under changed climate conditions and how these changes will affect the larger global environment.

Bering Ecosystem Study Resources

Overview

Students will engage in a hands-on activity to help them consider what students in a tropical climate do to prepare for recess compared with students who live in the interior of Alaska.

Objectives

Students will:

Lesson
Arctic
Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Through activities, video observation, experimentation and the construction of a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) students will learn about the chemical and physical properties of sea ice.

Lesson
Arctic
More than a week
All Aged
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The title of this lesson, 'Ssssno Seals' is a play on words. Will the ice seals survive? Yes or No? Paul Lukosi is a high school teacher in the lower Yukon River Delta, 6 miles from the Bering Sea...as the slough goes. The village he teaches in is heavily focused on family and culture, and has survived for thousands of years by subsistence living.

Lesson
Arctic
More than a week
High school and Up
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Nature creates its own density column in marine systems, which is extremely important for the triggering of the spring bloom of phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are an important food source for all organisms- from microscopic zooplankton to large marine mammals such as walrus and whales.

Lesson
Arctic
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
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Overview

Students will sing a song about guano's role in the ecosystem and the movement of energy and matter through the food chain.

Objective

Students will learn how energy and matter move and change in an ecosystem and how living things and matter interact.

Activity
Arctic
Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Overview

Students will sing a song about the effects of climate warming on changing ocean ecosystems.

Objective

To learn about ocean ecosystem health through song.

Description

Review the song ‘Where Have All the Coral Gone’ (attached), sung to the tune of ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone’.

Activity
Arctic
Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Overview

Students will sing a song to learn about ice algae and its role in the arctic ecosystem.

Objective

Students will learn about the Bering Sea arctic ecosystem, particularly the role of ice algae, plankton, krill, fish, birds and mammals through song.

Activity
Arctic
Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Overview

Students will sing a song and engage in an active game to learn more about ice algae and its role in the arctic ecosystem.

Objective

Students will learn about the arctic ecosystem, particularly the roles of ice algae, plankton, krill, fish, birds, seals, whales and polar bears through song and active participation.

Activity
Arctic
Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Overview

Students will make hand or stick puppets for use as props in songs, plays or other educational activities.

Objective

To make puppets!

Preparation

Prepare materials for students

Activity
Arctic
About 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Overview

Students will sing a song about the Bering Sea ocean ecosystem.

Objective

To sing a fun science-themed song!

Preparation

  • Teach students about the Bering Sea ecosystem or have them review journal entries from Maggie Prevenas’ PolarTREC expedition (see Resources section for address).

Activity
Arctic
Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Overview

Marine debris is primarily human-created trash found floating in the ocean. It can cause serious health problems for animals in a marine ecosystem. Students will gain first hand knowledge about the types of garbage found in the ocean by participating in a waste clean up tally.

Activity
Arctic
More than a week
Middle School and Up
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Overview

Students will engage in a hands-on activity to build their own plankton nets and help them understand how scientists use the nets to study changes in the ocean ecosystem.

Objective

Students will gain an understanding of how scientists use plankton nets and microscopes to study changes in the ocean ecosystem.

Activity
Arctic
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
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Overview

Students are asked to predict what will happen to styrofoam objects lowered down to the bottom of the Bering Sea. Students make the appropriate calculations related to the actual experiment which took place on Maggie Prevenas' PolarTREC expedition.

Lesson
Arctic
Less than 1 period
Middle School and Up
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Overview

The Aleutian Islands, between Alaska and Siberia, have earned the name "Cradle of the Storms" due to their wild weather. Students will view a two-part series about the Aleutian islands and answer questions related to the film.

Objective

Students will learn about the Aleutian Island chain in Alaska and answer questions to reinforce learning.

Activity
Arctic
About 1 period
Middle School and Up
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Overview

This activity is meant to help students authentically learn the scientific method through comparing and contrasting oral history (storytelling) as a way to pass along information and solve problems with the scientific method. It also helps connect the students' cultural identity with the curriculum.

Lesson
Arctic
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
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Students will sort organisms found in the Bering Sea into food chains and gain an awareness of the flow of energy and nutrients in the Bering Sea Ecosystem.

Lesson
Arctic
About 1 period
Middle School and Up
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Overview

Students will create a bookmark to help them remember that diatoms (ice algae) are the main producers in the Bering Sea ecosystem.

Objective

To create a tangible reminder of how the Bering Sea ecosystem's main producers (diatoms and ice algae) use sunlight and transfer that into food energy for use by most other creatures that live there.

Activity
Arctic
Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Overview

Teacher leads class through collaborative lesson. Language Arts, Social Studies and Science Book "Good-Bye My Island". Chapters of the 16 chapter book are read, summarized and taught by teams of students.

Lesson
Arctic
About a week
Middle School and Up
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Overview

Much like an owl pellet, a bolus is all the indigestible material that is "thrown up" by an albatross. Shaped like a fat cigar, one can dissect a bolus to assess the health of our ocean, the foraging ground for thousands of albatross trying to gather enough food to feed their hungry chicks.

Activity
Arctic
Less than 1 period
Middle School and Up
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Overview

This lesson is intended to have the students think about the animals of the Arctic and which ones they think are the largest. This will help with misconceptions of some animals being smaller than they think and you sneak in the scientific method and measuring skills while doing this lesson.

Lesson
Arctic
About 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Overview

During the 2007 Bering Ecosystem study, population sampling was done for seals by boat and helicopter. By using raisin bread and your students’ imagination you can create your own sampling of the Arctic populations of seals in the comfort of your classroom.

Lesson
Arctic
About 1 period
Middle School and Up
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Online news article featuring Robyn Staup's (Sweet) expedition aboard the USCGC Healy.

Article
Arctic
All Aged
n/a

Overview

Diatoms are one of the main kinds of phytoplankton we found blooming in the Bering Sea. They are so beautiful, little glass houses with green gems inside. They occur in huge numbers in the Bering Sea in the initial spring ice melting algae bloom.

Activity
Arctic
About 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Overview

Maggie Prevanas joined scientists in the Bering Sea where sampling to measure the productivity of the Bering Sea Ecosystem was conducted. Maggie learned about the role microscopic organisms, diatoms, play in algae blooms, carbon cycling, and global warming. Maggie developed a lesson using scientific illustration to introduce diatoms to her students.

Lesson
Arctic
About 1 period
All Aged
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Students will use "Susea" the seal—a seal toy that grows in water—to discover the scientific process. This lesson was created by Maggie Prevenas who took part in the Bering Ecosystem Study on the USCGC Healy in the Bering Sea.

Lesson
Arctic
More than a week
Middle School and Up
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Overview

Compare what students in a tropical climate do to prepare for recess with students who live in the interior of Alaska. Learn several consequences caused by sub zero temperatures. Create awareness that people are able to prepare for a cold environment by adding layers of clothes.

Lesson
Arctic
Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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BEST cruise on the Healy Icebreaker

BEST cruise on the Healy Icebreaker

Live event from the Healy Icebreaker.

Live call from the Healy.