NOAA 2003-R812
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Students at St. Patrick School in Carlisle, Pa., may learn about marine science in an exciting new way, through the eyes and perceptions of teacher Christopher Yerkes, who is participating in the Teacher at Sea program of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Yerkes, a resident of Carlisle, teaches science and math to students in grades six through eight. He is sailing aboard the NOAA hydrographic survey ship Littlehales June 23-July 2 to help conduct surveys of the sea floor along the eastern seaboard. The sonar data gathered will be used to update the nautical charts of the area to ensure safe navigation of commercial ships and recreational vessels in the nation’s busy sea lanes.

“This is a great opportunity for me to enrich my own education, as well as gain some insight into NOAA’s research at sea to share with my students,” Yerkes said.

The enthusiasm for learning generated between teachers and students is the biggest payoff of NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program, where teachers from kindergarten through college go aboard NOAA hydrographic, oceanographic and fisheries research vessels to work under the tutelage of scientists and crew. Now in its 13th year, the program has enabled more than 350 teachers to gain first hand experience in science at sea. Teachers can enrich their classroom curricula with a depth of understanding made possible by living and working side-by-side, day and night, with those who contribute to the world’s body of scientific knowledge.

Rear Admiral Evelyn Fields, NOAA Corps, director of NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations, which administers the program. “It addresses the strong desire of teachers to gain ‘real world’ experience to bring back to their classrooms and to update their skills in scientific research. It also provides NOAA with eager and talented volunteers for their field projects. In addition, by giving teachers an up-close view of the fascinating world of marine science, we hope they’ll pass along their enthusiasm to students and spark enough interest to bring NOAA new recruits down the road. It’s a win-win situation.”

Applicants are rated by a review panel on how they intend to incorporate their experiences into their classroom curricula. They must also submit an article for publication or conduct a presentation at an educators’ conference for colleagues.

Successful applicants can choose from research or survey missions on 13 participating ships ranging from one week to several months on the East, West or Gulf coasts. Although the program is free, participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from the ship.

Teacher at Sea is administered by NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations. NMAO is responsible for operating, managing and maintaining NOAA’s fleet of research and survey ships and aircraft, and is composed both of civilians and officers of the NOAA Commissioned Corps, the nation’s seventh and smallest uniformed service.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. To learn more about NOAA, please visit

For more information about the Teacher at Sea program, please visit: