Friday, August 6, 2010

Oohhhh's and Aaahhhhh's = inspiration

I think that audible gasps are the best inspiration for a teacher.

This week I got out from behind the computer to get in front of 50 kids ages 8-15 who are learning to sail (and take care of the lake) at the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center. As part of the WAVES initiative, Rozalia Project was the featured lunchtime program for all of the classes that ranged from new level 1 sailors to a SCUBA & Sail class to the more advanced Level 2 sailors.

I was especially excited as this was my first marine debris program - and after all the planning, American Promise excitement, press release-writing, etc. it was great to spring into action. We started with an interactive prese
ntation/discussion about the effects of trash in the water then moved onto a big guessing game: the kids guessed how long various items take to break down in the marine environment. Newspaper: 6 weeks... cotton rope: 1 year (small gasp from the 8 year old sailor sitting right in front of me)... fishing nets: 30-40 years (bigger gasp)... soda can: 80-200 years (big audible gasp)... glass bottle: 1 million years (a full "oh my goodness"). I could have kept going just to hear that sailor's reactions. It was the best.

By then, everyone was paying attention (yes!) and we played a version of Family Feud to name the top 10 items found on beaches in a 10 year collection of data from around the world. In the end each class was able to get on the board with some correct guesses. Cigarettes were the top (the reaction by a small, pink-bathin
g suit clad, maybe 9 year sailor was, "I'm glad I don't smoke). Me too.

Next came what I think was the highlight for a lot of the kids, the introduction to the VideoRay ROV (remotely operated vehicle) and Blueview imaging sonar. Being a fan of the audible gasp, I love taking the little yellow sub out of the box because it always gets lots of ohhhs and aahhhhs.

While the kids separated their lunch debris by organic (into the compost bin), recyclable (into various recycle bins) and trash (into a bin with a lid) and got into their lifejackets, I got the ROV/sonar all plugged in and ready for launch off the dock. Again with the ahhs and some squeals - what is better than seeing yourself on screen through the eyes of a bright yellow robot?? In the end we had a good fly around the docks with the ROV. I was hoping to find and rescue a whole bunch of sunglasses, radios, watches, frisbees and other lost items but the seaweed was too tall to really see the bottom. We did not find any trash right next to the dock which was good. To wrap it up, the kids had a little swim with the VideoRay for some footage of lots of little legs churning away.

Next, I will be heading to the land of my alma mater and Providence Community Boating to work with 70 young sailors right at the foot of the city. I am psyched for this as there was no community boating center when I was at Brown and we had to drive to Bristol for sailing team practice. I have heard nothing but great things about this Center and the city's efforts at making the river an accessible place (though I will not be surprised if we find cars and other suspect items in the river). Those of you around Providence next week, I will be there from around 9-4 on Wednesday August 11.

After that, I am very psyched to head for one of the country's busiest sailing centers, Boston Community Boating on the Charles River. Amy Lyons (who I have had the pleasure to co-teach a US Sailing course with) runs a solid 400+ kid per day program with a zillion boats. We will be running a similar program for somewhere in the range of 300 kids plus adults. If you are in the area, come check it out on Thursday August 12 pretty much all day.

This is a good time to send out a big thank you to our technology partners: VideoRay, Blueview, Tritech (whose Starfish side scan sonar will be put to work soon) and Lyyn for helping us make the bad visibility days good ones - I think we will need it in the rivers.

Please remember to vote every day of August for us and please post, tweet and spread the word to other lovers of the ocean.

Next report from Boston/Providence.

1 comment:

  1. Hey -

    I like what you are up to. Have you heard of 5 Gyres? Come over to my blog about picking up trash -- mostly plastic -- off my local CA beach for 365 non-consecutive days.