Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fourth Period Earthquake

Fourth period class began as normal with students retrieving their homework and starting on two conversion problems. Then the room began to shake. It took me a few moments to register what was happening, then once I realized it was an earthquake I told the students to get under their desks. From what I have read online the shaking lasted about 45 seconds, but anyone who was there knows it felt much longer.

The room was still unsteady when the fire alarms started to go off. I had my students wait a few moments so I could relay information. I had them take their backpacks, cautioned them to be careful, quick, and calm. My students were excellent. It took me a few moments to grab my phone, keys, and name sign and I was one of the last down the stairs. Students were exiting very quickly and taking it well. One girl's backpack fell open and three boys stopped grabbed all her things and kept walking.

My students met me at the bottom of the hill, our prearranged meeting location and sat quietly. I answered any questions I could about earthquakes and what was happening. While we waited in the sunshine we could hear and feel aftershocks. I am very proud of my students for staying calm and sharing phones so that others could try to get in touch with their loved ones.

After the buses had arrived students walked calmly to the bus loop and got on the buses to go home. Students that drove to school and had their keys were allowed to get in their own vehicles and drive home. On the whole, I am amazed how calm everyone was during a situation that does not frequently occur in Virginia.

Currently all buildings are locked and being patrolled by the local authorities so any belongings left by students are safe. When students are allowed to re-enter the building that information will be passed along. Please enjoy your time off until school resumes the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Today students began class with a BrainPop on currents and took the quiz. Tim and Moby did an excellent job describing how currents affect global weather patterns. They also explained global water circulation in the global conveyor belt. Tomorrow students will be reading some more about this global water movement. Click on the photo for a better view.

Today in class we discussed water temperature and upwelling. For notes we continued talking about water movement and addressed ocean temperature and location. Areas near the equator are considered tropical, but do not always have warm water. The same is true for temperate areas between 30 and 60* latitude. Water at the poles is always cold though.

Upwelling is when cold nutrient-rich water comes up to the surface. It is fed by deepwater currents hitting land and rising to the surface. These areas have cold water that is full of nutrients, so there is heaps of plankton, and as a result lots of fish and other marine life.

There are two known upwelling spots in California on either side of Monterrey Bay, shown in blue and purple on the map. There are elephant seal and sea lion rookeries (hang outs) at both of these spots because there is plenty of food for the seals and sea lions and their babies to eat.

Students are working on mapping upwelling and then answering questions about the data gathered from a particular day. If this is not finished in class tomorrow, then it will be homework for the students.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Currents and flotsametrics

Currents can be identified by their temperature, salinity, and density. Students identified which currents were warm and cold by looking at where they are coming from and then colored them appropriately.

Next students learned more about how scientists learn about currents. Students practiced latitude and longitude by plotting some points of a cargo lost overboard and where some of the shipment washed up beaches, then they read articles and answered questions, and finished up by listening to a podcast interviewing Curtis Ebbesmeyer, the oceanographer who studies sneakers, rubber ducks, and other floating debris. You can listen to the podcast here.

In the interview, and in the readings, gyres full of floating plastic debris are discussed. Here is a map showing some of the locations of these gyres. Click on the picture to get a larger view. Here is an excellent website with more information and some nifty graphics. We will continue to discuss this in class.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tides, Waves, Tsunamis... oh my!

Students started class by going over safety rules and procedures with a pictorial challenge. Afterwards students took the safety test. Today in class we discussed waves, powered by wind, and their parts. 

We also discussed tsunamis, which fascinate most students. Tsunamis are caused by underwater earthquakes and they displace water. Displacement of water causes a large wave or energy to travel through the water, but it cannot be seen at the surface until the wave approaches shallow water. (Confused? Check out the diagram to the left) Because the wave is not felt in deep water, going out to sea is one option for escaping a tsunami, getting onto land with higher elevation is another option. There are places in Japan and Hawaii where fishermen went out to sea in the morning and when they returned, their villages had been washed away.

Next we discussed tides. Tides are caused by the moon's gravitational pull on the ocean. The sun has an impact too, but the moon's impact is greater because it is a lot closer. The ocean water bulges towards the moon and causes the high tide... areas perpendicular to the bulge are having a low tide. Because the earth is rotating, each place is going to have two high tides and two low tides each day.Spring high tides are exceptionally high and really really low when the earth, sun, and moon are all lined up in a row.  Click on the diagram for more information.
We finished class by discussing temperature and locations on the globe and watched some Blue Planet on tides, tidal bores, sand bubbler crabs that comb through sand eating macro-organisms, and bears that eat clams.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pressure in the Ocean

Pressure is the weight of particles above you and increases with depth in water. Right now there is one atmosphere of pressure squeezing on all of us, but we are used to it, so we don't notice the difference. We may notice our ears popping when driving over Shenandoah or flying in an airplane when pressure decreases. Water is 800 times more dense than air, so underwater, pressure increases dramatically. Pressure increases one atmosphere with every ten feet of depth, so all you need to do is dive down the deep end of the pool and you will feel an increase in pressure to two atmospheres (one for the water, and one for the air)

Scientists think it is funny to take styrofoam deep into the ocean because the pressure underwater will squeeze the air out of the styrofoam and "shrink it." Really it is just compressed and more dense. Here is a photo of what happens to styrofoam wig-heads and cups when taken down a few thousand feet, a change of several atmospheres of pressure.

setting up the pressure lab

Students finished class with a lab demonstration of how pressure increases with depth using cups of water with three holes. Water squirted further out of the bottom hole because there was more weight and pressure pushing down on that part of the cup. Students did an excellent job working together and cleaning up. If students did not finish the write up in class, they need to finish it and turn it in.

Safety test - Friday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Week One - Locations, Safety, and Oceanography

So far this week we have been discussing latitude and longitude. Students were given information about the uses of latitude and location and were maybe surprised that many of their phones were equipped with GPS tools. Students practiced on their own, have looked up locations in the US, and participated in an "Around the World" challenge where they needed to follow directions and locate important places.

We watched a BrainPop about Latitude and Longitude featuring Tim and Moby hiking in the mountains. They claimed their position was:

60* 5' 22" N       
159* 13' 10" W

For extra credit (up to five people), tell me where they were hiking.

Today students reviewed safety rules by looking over a cartoon and trying to figure out what the people were doing correctly and incorrectly. They also had to identify the rule numbers (which is a lot more effort). We discussed why safety rules are important and how they are helpful.

Also today students got an introduction to oceanography. We discussed the salinity of the ocean (an average of 35 parts per thousand) and  the pH (the ocean has a pH of 8, which is basic). In second period we finished up with a video about flying penguins. Here's the link if you want to watch it.

Tomorrow is Thursday so there is a quiz. Safety Test is Friday.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Welcome to Marine Ecology - Fall 2011

Greetings students, parents, and guardians.

Welcome to a new school year with Ms Jancaitis! This blog has been set up to connect students, parents, and guardians with the chemistry class.

At Open House or in class, each student will receive a course syllabus, safety rules, and a breakage sheet. The safety rules and breakage sheet needs to be read and signed by both the student and parent guardian.

  1. The course syllabus outlines what the course will be like, what topics will be covered, and course expectations. It also contains contact information. There will be a quiz on this syllabus on Thursday.
  2. The safety rules are rules designed to keep the classroom safe and orderly to maximize learning and prevent accidents and injuries. These rules need to be studied because there will be a safety test on Friday and infractions of these rules can lead to disciplinary action as well as low assignment grades.
  3. A breakage sheet is a contract holding students accountable for the items that are broken if the student is acting a manner that is unsafe for themselves or those around them.
Please have these papers signed and returned by Friday. Students not returning signed safety rules and breakage sheets will not be able to participate in labs and activities until the contracts are signed and returned.

Computer Lab Etiquette

You are in the computer lab to do work for this class. If you are not doing work, then we will have problems.

Do not pack up early. Work until the bell or until MsJ says.

SAVE OFTEN. And if you save to a key, also save it to your number. If you lose it, you will have to do it again.

If MsJ asks for your attention, stop what you are doing and listen to what she has to say.

You may watch videos about your organism through reliable websites.

You may listen to music through the computer if you have your own headphones. Rule1 MsJ cannot hear it. You get one warning. Rule2 Turn it on and listen – no million clicks and constant changing. Take both ear phones out when MsJ is talking.