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Welcome to Classroom@Sea

Classroom@Sea aims to bring real marine science into the classroom. To help us do this, we recruit teachers to work alongside a scientific team on a UK research ship and report back to the Classroom@Sea website.

This means that you get to see exactly how we do our science, through the eyes of people who know exactly how to explain it to you...no mad professor science talk! And because the website is updated daily during the cruises, you get to see how the science unfolds as it happens.

But there's more...to help you understand and find out more about the science on board the ship, there's a wealth of background information on the website, covering all sorts of marine science topics.

RRS James Cook moored next to the National Oceanography Center, Southampton

Where did it start?

Classroom@Sea started life as the outreach component of an international EU-funded research programme called EUROSTRATAFORM (EUROpean margin STRATA FORMation), which investigated how sediment particles are transported from river mouths, across the continental shelf and down to the deep sea. EUROSTRATAFORM and the UK's Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) sponsored the first Classroom@Sea cruise, which was organised and run by scientists in the Geology & Geophysics Group at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. Following the success of the first cruise, we now regularly ask our scientists to send back daily diaries from their time at sea. Unfortunately it is not possible to put teachers on every cruise, but we have just closed application for our summer 2007 expedition (more details coming soon), when we hope to take 6 teachers to sea over a period of 8 weeks as part of the HERMES project.

At NOCS, our research into various aspects of seafloor geology, geophysics and geochemistry is partly funded by NERC, with a wide range of specific research projects financed partly or wholly through other sources, such as the European Union, commercial organisations and various other science grant schemes. An integral part of this research is regular expeditions to sea aboard specially designed research vessels. During these cruises we collect a huge spectrum of different data types which we use to build up a picture of the physical and chemical processes that shape the seafloor environment. Our cruises cover a wide range of science topics, from active geological and biological processes on the seafloor, to measuring waves and currents, looking at how marine life adapts to extreme environments, and tracing man-made pollutants from river mouths to the deep sea.

Where do the teachers fit in?

Two UK science teachers (Ian and Elena) spent two weeks aboard a EUROSTRATAFORM research cruise in June 2004. In return, they sent back stories, articles, photos and video clips of the science we carry out at sea. This material was published on this website and made available to schools across the country. The site was updated daily for the duration of the cruise so that pupils and teachers could get a real feel for both the science and life on board the ship. There were opportunities for students to email the scientists and teachers during the cruise to ask questions about the science and events happening on the ship.

Ian and Elena were fully involved in the day to day science on the ship, and as such were expected to join in with the sampling activities on deck. In addition, there was plenty of time for them to carry out their own experiments or demonstrations which were not directly linked to the on-board research but were relevant to the situation - for example: stellar navigation, satellite positioning, how the ship's engines work, how early scientists worked out the depth of the ocean, and so on. Spending time at sea provides an ideal opportunity not only to study many different aspects of science and the environment, but also to delve into the history behind the exploration of the oceans.

In addition to their participation on the cruise, Ian and Elena have been fully involved with the construction of this website. Their task has been to make sure concepts and scientific topics are pitched at the right level, and identifying areas of our science which can be applied to the curriculum followed by UK secondary schools. If you are a teacher and would like to be involved with further developing the scope of this site, please get in touch!

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