Styrofoam Cups Take a Deep-Sea Dive!

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Springs School Styrofoam Cups vs. Arctic Deep Sea Pressure Challenge! 

Middle school science teacher Lisa Seff  has been getting Springs School students involved in, and excited about, authentic Polar science research for the past few years. This past June, classes across the school once again connected with the Arctic research team studying the Oceanographic Conditions of the Bowhead Whale habitat with a special "Sea Pressure Challenge" experience.  In June, students decorated styrofoam cups so they could be sent to the bottom of the Beaufort Sea during the summer to study the effects of ocean pressure. Students from Mrs. Seff, Ms. Belkin, Mrs. Frazier, Ms. Policastro, Mrs. Dragone, Mrs. Schuppe, Mrs. McKee, Mrs. O'Connor, Mrs. Hicks, Mrs. Amicucci and Ms. Angulo's classes participated by adding their own artwork to styrofoam cups.  The cups were then mailed to the research team in Barrow, Alaska in August, where they were placed into dive bags, attached them to their science instruments and, in an oceanographic tradition, plunged them to the bottom of the Beaufort Sea for several minutes to let ocean pressure make its impact!  The research team is led by scientist Dr. Carin Ashjian of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The cups should be returned to students by the end of this month, where they will see that their cups have shrunk due to the effects of pressure in the depths of the ocean."Comparing the before and after cups should provide a great platform for student discussions on the effects of pressure and density," said Mrs. Seff.  "It will also help them gain a better understanding of the pressures organisms and researchers have to deal with at increasing ocean depths!"

This month, Mrs. Seff's sixth and eighth grade students are connecting with a new research project at the opposite end of the earth. To help inspire interest, last week her students created a Springs School flag with the main artwork drawn by eighth grader Jennifer Villacis.  The final touch was to have students and staff (more than 130!) write their names around the edges of the flag.  The flag was sent to PolarTREC educator Jillian Worssam and will be flown over the Research Vessel Ice Breaker N.B. Palmer as it sails from Chile to the Antarctic region during September and October.  Students will be virtually joining the ship as researchers study sea floor changes and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.  Students plan on following the research expedition through blogs and live updates from the researchers and educators onboard the vessel!

If you'd like to learn more and see more photos about the Arctic and Antarctic projects that Springs students will be exploring this year, visit one of the links below!

Arctic Sea Pressure Challenge links:
http://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/oceanographic-conditions-of-bowhead-whale-habitat-2014/journals/2014-08-14
 
And:
http://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/oceanographic-conditions-of-bowhead-whale-habitat-2014/journals/2014-08-26

Sea Floor Changes and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current Link:
http://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/sea-floor-changes-and-the-antarctic-circumpolar-current

All photos courtesy of Lisa Seff 

 

 
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