If I could teach science all day long, I would. I know how powerful it is. You can integrate it into everything. You can integrate all of your standards.

I am an English teacher, but I know if that if my students listen closely enough, they can hear the poetry of science in everything. Science taps into the natural curiosity and energy of young people, and NGSS science — because it is inquiry-based and student-centered — provides content that engages and motivates students to step up and apply themselves to challenging tasks. Science can be integrated into English Language Arts in order to touch upon curriculum expectations for reading, writing, oral communication, and media literacy. ELA tasks, including reading complex texts, formulating arguments, constructing explanations, and defending claims, are not so daunting when they are a path to understanding something students really want to know.

Digital art representing Learning, Hint, School, Subject, Background, Backdrop
Connecting Subjects! Image by Harish Sharma, Courtesy of Pixabay

Algal blooms that produce vast quantities of harmful algae are called harmful algal blooms or HABs.

Harmful algal blooms affect Alaskans in two ways: they threaten health, and they impose significant financial costs. When these blooms occur, toxins can concentrate in tissues of shellfish eaten by humans and wildlife. These toxins can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) which can be fatal in humans. Let’s work backwards on the phrase “Harmful Algal Bloom” to better understand it. In the context of HABs, the term “algae” refers to a very broad range of organisms, but especially to dinoflagellates, diatoms, and cyanobacteria. The term “bloom” refers to an overgrowth of algae, and “bloom” is quite fitting because the burst of growth can occur very rapidly. The "Harmful" in “Harmful Algal Bloom” primarily refers to the production of toxins, and sometimes people refer to “toxic algal blooms” rather than “harmful algal blooms.” The importance of research and monitoring of arctic marine toxin-producing algae is gaining significant attention. (The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is the a private, nonprofit research and higher education facility that I'll be working with. They're dedicated to the study of marine science and engineering in our oceans.) The Arctic has been traditionally considered to present unfavorable conditions for toxin-producing Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) to occur. HABs occur when colonies of algae grow out of control while producing toxic, or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds. Harmful Algal Blooms do adversely affect ecosystems, the health of animals and humans, as well as potentially affecting the economy with beach closures and shellfish harvest closures.

PolarTREC 2013 Andrea Skloss
Andrea Skloss: "Do you see the deep red color in the water? That is red tide!" Aboard the USCGC Healy icebreaker, docked in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Photo by Andrea Skloss (PolarTREC 2013), Courtesy of ARCUS

Why Should We Care?

The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. Oceans control the Earth's weather as they heat and cool, humidify and dry the air and control wind speed and direction. And the weather determines not just what you'll wear to work or school in the week ahead - but also whether the wheat crop in the Midwest will get enough rain to mature, whether the snow pack in the Sierras will be adequate to satisfy the needs of water southern California, whether the hurricane season in the Atlantic will be feeble of fierce, or whether HABs will impact the Alaskan fisheries.

Weather Summary
13 deg F


Elaine Krebs

I love the "why should we care" section! I spent lots of time studying HAB's and pseudonitzschia in college and they're important!!

Erin Towns

Love the way that you explained how to connect science with ELA. Your style of writing is very clear and easy to understand. Awesome!!