From Grays Harbor College to VISIONS16

I have had the good fortune to participate on the OOI VISIONS expeditions since 2013. VISIONS13 was the eye-opener.  I had never been “out to sea” so to speak, except for single day sports fishing for salmon and or bottom fish in a 60 ft charter boat. The first year on the R/V Thompson, I learned about  chemical analyses that are performed to determine the health of the ocean.  I asked, I watched I listened, and I took notes.  I was a sponge.

As a community college chemistry instructor at Grays Harbor College, my primary role is instruction. My role on the ship during VISIONS’14 & 15 cruises, primarily involved instructing 10-45 students that sail on the VISIONS cruises about the ins and outs of sample collection, (CTD casts) sample preparation, (chlorophyll sample filtration and preservation), and sample analysis (O2 determination via titration).

This year, we are on a smaller ship and therefore have only one student on board. This year, the major responsibility for the CTD work fell on my shoulders. I did not need to be instructor and the watch dog.  This allowed me to do the processes, and freed up my mind to explore ways to incorporate more meaningful applications to the Introductory Chemistry Course that I teach during the academic year at Grays Harbor College.   Introductory chemistry lab courses most commonly involve learning elementary procedures such as measurements and conversions, density determinations, separations of mixtures, and elementary titrations.   Adding an application to these rudimentary activities should greatly enhance the students learning experience and also should help with retention of the information.  Overall, the lack of students on board the ship and the time I had to think about instruction will hopefully be beneficial to my Chemistry students at Grays Harbor College.

Julie Nelson