NOAA 2001-R502
Contact: Jana Goldman


When middle school science teacher Susan Carty decided to take a sabbatical, she had no idea she would be spending much of it on the South China Sea.

Carty, a teacher at Stetson Middle School in the West Chester, Pa., school district, will spend 40 days aboard the NOAA research vessel Ronald H. Brown with an international team of scientists studying what effect atmospheric aerosols – particles – may have on climate.

"I just can't wait to go," said Carty. "The only other time I've been on a ship was on a cruise to Alaska, but this will be my first research cruise."

Carty is part of NOAA's Teacher-At-Sea Program, which provides space aboard the agency's research ships for teachers, who send back information about their experiences and lesson plans. Each year, approximately 40 teachers participate in the program.

"I had picked the Brown about a year ago when I learned about the Teacher-At-Sea Program, but I was thinking of a five-to-ten day cruise," Carty said. "My husband was standing by the phone when I was called and he kept nodding his head ‘yes' that I should go on this cruise."

Research cruises are much different than recreational ones, and Carty admits she's a novice.

"I'm learning everything I possibly can," she said. "I've been advised to bring earplugs to help block the noise of the water to help me sleep at night."

On her resume, she listed a rationale statement for taking a sabbatical from the job she's held since 1988: "I have taken a sabbatical for the pure purpose of improving my understanding of specific areas of science, as well as experiencing relevant and significant scientific undertakings."

Being on sabbatical meant she had the large block of time available for this particular cruise, which will travel the South China Sea collecting aerosol samples. ACE-Asia is an international and interagency project funded by NOAA, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the University of California Pacific Rim Project.

The scientific experiments will measure the chemical and physical characteristics of the aerosols, as well as determine their climatic influence. Tim Bates, a scientist from NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Wash., and Barry Huebert of the University of Hawaii are the two main scientists for the cruise.

Carty will travel to Denver to fly aboard one of the two planes that will be used during the experiments. From Denver, she will fly to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to board the Brown on March 15. Once aboard, she won't be on dry land until April 22, when an open house is scheduled aboard the ship in Yokosuka, Japan.

Her colleagues and students at Stetson Middle School will follow her progress via daily Web postings. She said they have put up a map and will trace her route.

"This year, I was focused on certain goals that I wanted to achieve in my teaching," she said. "I think this just shows that when you set your mind on something, it really happens."

To follow the ACE-Asia cruise, visit:

For information about the Teacher-At-Sea program, visit:

For information about the Ronald H. Brown, visit:

To learn more about NOAA, visit: