Event Title

The Salish Sea as a "classroom" for undergraduate research at the Ocean Research College Academy

Presentation Abstract

Connecting students to the places they live has been a cornerstone of the curriculum at the Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA) since inception 15 years ago. By engaging students in a locally based research project in the Salish Sea, ORCA has graduated over 400 students that have direct, hands-on experiences in the Snohomish River Estuary. Through incorporating active learning strategies such as undergraduate research, students have engaged deeply in the biogeochemical processes of a salt wedge estuary. Over the course of an entire year, students collect oceanographic metrics and utilize their emerging mathematical and communication skills to analyze and interpret the longitudinal data set that includes temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, chlorophyll concentration, turbidity, nutrient levels, fecal coliform levels and plankton presence and abundance. Additional monitoring of seabird and marine mammal abundance and distribution round out the expansive data set. Students collect data twice a month from the Research Vessel Phocoena, a National Science Foundation funded custom built landing craft. Students present their findings at an annual event, the Possession Sound Student Showcase and Talks. A holistic look at understanding ecosystem drivers begins with the river and ends with an understanding of the intricate food web provides the foundation for future studies during the second year of the two-year program. Second year students expand on the data set, some choosing to incorporate data from two deployed CTDs that collect the metrics every 30 minutes. Two thirds of the ORCA graduates pursue a STEM major, and 95% matriculate to four-year colleges and universities. Regardless of the eventual university major, student connection to the to Salish Sea is a natural outcome of the two-year experience, and informed citizenry is the result.

Session Title

Posters: Collaboration & Engagement

Conference Track

SSE18: Posters

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE18-26

Start Date

5-4-2018 11:30 AM

End Date

5-4-2018 1:30 PM

Type of Presentation

Poster

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Apr 5th, 11:30 AM Apr 5th, 1:30 PM

The Salish Sea as a "classroom" for undergraduate research at the Ocean Research College Academy

Connecting students to the places they live has been a cornerstone of the curriculum at the Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA) since inception 15 years ago. By engaging students in a locally based research project in the Salish Sea, ORCA has graduated over 400 students that have direct, hands-on experiences in the Snohomish River Estuary. Through incorporating active learning strategies such as undergraduate research, students have engaged deeply in the biogeochemical processes of a salt wedge estuary. Over the course of an entire year, students collect oceanographic metrics and utilize their emerging mathematical and communication skills to analyze and interpret the longitudinal data set that includes temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, chlorophyll concentration, turbidity, nutrient levels, fecal coliform levels and plankton presence and abundance. Additional monitoring of seabird and marine mammal abundance and distribution round out the expansive data set. Students collect data twice a month from the Research Vessel Phocoena, a National Science Foundation funded custom built landing craft. Students present their findings at an annual event, the Possession Sound Student Showcase and Talks. A holistic look at understanding ecosystem drivers begins with the river and ends with an understanding of the intricate food web provides the foundation for future studies during the second year of the two-year program. Second year students expand on the data set, some choosing to incorporate data from two deployed CTDs that collect the metrics every 30 minutes. Two thirds of the ORCA graduates pursue a STEM major, and 95% matriculate to four-year colleges and universities. Regardless of the eventual university major, student connection to the to Salish Sea is a natural outcome of the two-year experience, and informed citizenry is the result.