Merrill teacher sets sail to study right whales in Atlantic Ocean

Lynn Kurth, a science teacher at Prairie River Middle School in Merrill, will sail aboard NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter on Monday, May 5 to assist scientists on an 18-day survey of right whale populations in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. Kurth will participate in this cruise as part of NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program, which bridges science and education through real-world research experiences.
“Teaching topics that I have encountered personally enables me to teach with passion and expertise. Many of my most rewarding and effective teaching experiences involved sharing personal experiences I have had. Many of those involve water, which perhaps explains my aspiration to spend time at sea,” Kurth says. “Through my experience with NOAA, my students will not only be able to learn first-hand about exciting research at sea, they will be witnesses to and participants in the research as it happens. Making their learning relevant through my own hands-on experiences is vital to getting them excited about science.”
Kurth will board NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter on May 5 in Woods Hole, MA, and will work with scientists daily as they conduct an on-going study of endangered right whales off the coast of the northeastern United States. 
“NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program gives teachers the professional opportunity of a lifetime with a chance to participate in cutting edge science, on the ocean, working side-by-side with world-renowned scientists,” says Jennifer Hammond, the program’s director. “Teachers describe this authentic research experience as transformative and one that allows them to bring new knowledge and excitement back to their classrooms.”
Now in its 24th year, the program has provided nearly 700 teachers the opportunity to gain first-hand experience participating in science at sea. This year, NOAA received applications from nearly 200 teachers, and chose 25 to participate in research cruises. The educators chosen are able to enrich their curricula with the depth of understanding they gain by living and working side-by-side with scientists studying the marine environment.
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. 

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