Jon White – From the President’s Office: 08-12-2019

2019-08-15T15:27:52+00:00 August 12, 2019|

Photo, top: The Albany High School team visits MBARI (Photo credit: Melissa Brodeur) Photo, bottom: The Ladue Horton Watkins team goes out on hydrographic survey boats with NOAA MOC-A (Photo credit: Amanda Holloway)

Searching for a Little Brightness? Look Toward the Ocean.

Last week was a very difficult and sad period; one of the darkest I can remember in the United States since September 11, 2001. With all the bad news that encroaches on our consciousness every day, it’s often hard to find things to feel optimistic about. However, one bright spot that occurred last week was the second award trip from the 2019 National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) Finals competition, which took the third-place team to southern Virginia. Any time we get to celebrate our future ocean leaders is a very good day indeed, and hearing about how the Ladue Horton Watkins High School team from St. Louis, Missouri, got to explore and experience the nation’s largest estuary (Chesapeake Bay) and surrounding area with several ocean science and research facilities certainly injected a bit of optimism and enthusiasm into my outlook and attitude.

The team started their trip at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, where they got a behind-the-scenes tour and observed many bottlenose dolphins aboard the Atlantic Explorer. The team then got a hands-on lesson in ocean mapping tools and research with the NOAA Marine Operations Center-Atlantic (MOC-A) before heading up to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) Eastern Shore Laboratory to explore barrier island ecosystems and learn about island migration. The Ladue Horton Watkins team also went to VIMS’s Gloucester Point campus, where they saw one of the largest collections of freshwater, Chesapeake Bay, and coastal fishes in Virginia and took part in recreational fish tagging. They visited the Navy’s Fleet Weather Center at the world’s largest Navy base in Norfolk, where they also toured the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) and met Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 124 (VAW-124), the “Bear Aces.”

Just a few weeks ago, the first-place team from the 2019 Finals, Albany High School from Albany, California stayed on the west coast and travelled around the greater Monterey Bay area, going behind-the-scenes at some of northern California’s top-notch ocean science and technology organizations. At the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), the team got to see cutting edge ocean technologies and learn how the MBARI team is innovating the way gliders, buoys, and other autonomous systems observe critical ocean conditions. Later, at the California State University Maritime Academy, they put their teamwork to the test in Cal Maritime’s Simulation Training Facility. They worked together to help their “ship” weather a virtual storm, employing communication and critical thinking skills no doubt honed through their NOSB participation to pull through the simulation.

Every year, I’m so impressed by and proud of what our NOSB students accomplish, and these teams are a shining example of that. The way they cooperate, communicate, and get excited to learn about ocean science reassures me that in hard times, like a ship in a storm, the ocean will have a steady and knowledgeable hand at the helm steering it toward a brighter future. Many thanks again to all of the institutions who hosted our NOSB students, and the countless volunteers who make these trips and the competitions possible. You certainly made my days a little brighter last week, just like you do for so many of our students each year.

Stanford Researchers Develop Technology To Harness Energy From Mixing Of Freshwater And Seawater
A new battery made from affordable and durable materials generates energy from places where salt and fresh waters mingle. The technology could make coastal wastewater treatment plants energy-independent and carbon neutral. Stanford researchers have developed an affordable, durable technology that could harness this so-called blue energy.

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