After the Call
August 7, 2004
The calls to UCAP were great! Hearing the students on the other end of the phone made my adventure seem even more meaningful. The excitement in their voices came through so vividly that I almost forgot they were oceans away. It was comforting and heartwarming to hear the students sound enthusiastic about science, thinking about it in real-world, rather than textbook, terms and to hear them so excited about talking to me.
Jason Leveque, a second year student at UCAP (Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program), was excited about the call as soon as he found out. Earlier this summer, Jason, along with 14 other students, participated in a call training session with Maureen Farrell, who is also a science teacher at UCAP, and me. During the session, the students were informed about the expedition, while they decorated Styrofoam cups that would dive with the deep submergence vehicle Alvin and shrink from the effects of pressure at depth. I recall Jason asking more than once during the two-hour session: Well be able to talk to you, right?
During the call today, Jason and the other students had great questions prepared for the scientists. They covered all areas of science, from geology to biology, as well as basic engineering. For instance, one student asked, Did you find any new species of coral? Amy Baco-Taylor from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was able to give an almost definite response: Yes, I think so, she said. I cant even describe how it felt to watch as my students, the inner-city at-risk kids, talked to real scientists in the Gulf of Alaska!
For me, the highlight of the call came when former UCAP student Patrick Neumann, who is working on this cruise as an ordinary seaman, got on the phone to address the students and staff. It was great hearing him talk about old times with UCAP Director Rob DeBlois and teacher Maureen Farrell. He then answered some questions from students and briefly explained his path from UCAP to the R/V Atlantis. I could just picture the students sitting around the phone, hanging on Patricks every word. Patrick was just like them 10 years ago. Now hes living his dream and doing what he loves.
The call ended with all the students, Rob, Maureen, and everyone else yelling Bye! all at once, as loud as they could. Hearing those kids at UCAP, in the middle of the summer, reminded me yet again why I am a teacher. I love being able to bring a little more into a childs life, to open their eyes to new and exciting fields of science. I love my job!
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