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Student Oceanography Essay

 

Going into this year, I was presented with multiple different options for class and of them all I chose Oceanography. When I first saw that this class was offered it intrigued me because it had been a subject that had interested me for a long time. I chose to take this class because our world is predominantly covered by water so it only makes sense to have knowledge on the majority of the world. In oceanography this year I learned a lot of different things that I did not know. I had learned all about the tides, marine life, explorers, as well as many other things. The things that I could have worked on however would be studying more for the various quizzes that we took. I could have challenged my abilities more and worked a little bit harder in class on whatever we were working on that day. Typically a partner or partners and I would work on the labs in class together and would usually complete them. Another thing that I could have done better on is the blogs.  I completed most of the blogs but I could have put a lot more detail into them. I also could have added more pictures to my blogs to add a visual element to them as well as putting them a step above an average post. As far as recognizing my individual learning style I prefer to work in small groups. I do not mind working alone but I feel as though I work more efficiently when I have the responsibility of not letting others down as well. When I work with others, everyone usually benefits from it through the increased work production. When I work alone, I often work at too slow of a pace and don’t finish in the allotted time. Another way that I like to learn is by lectures. Although it may seem boring I learn better through lectures than I do by going through the book and taking notes. Overall, I feel as though I did a fairly good job at applying myself throughout the course.

            Communication was another big aspect of this class because it was so group oriented. During labs it is usually required to that we work with more than one other person so it is very important that one has the ability to communicate properly and convey ideas to one another. If a person cannot convey their ideas to the other members of the group then the group may be missing out on a very good idea and wont be able to use it. It is also very important to communicate so that everyone in the group will get the same information and answers. I usually just say what ever comes to mind when I am working in a group and if the group likes it then great but if they do not then no harm done.

            Overall in this class I have learned a lot about the ocean by doing a handful of assignments and working through some decently challenging labs. Everything we did was related but at the some time it was different. Because everything connected, I was able to tie some concepts into others to make more sense of them. One thing that I worked on was a project about explorers. I had to research Charles Darwin and his journey on the H.M.S Beagle. And do a presentation on the whole thing. This project was one of the few only independent things I did in the class and I believe that I did very well on it. Another assignment that I worked in this class was an assignment where I was given a specific region on the globe and I had to look up what the wind patterns were going into and out of that region. The region that I had was Marlboro, New Zealand. I learned how wind patterns and ocean currents affect that area. Overall, I learned about the varying affects the ocean has on the world. Whether it be through differing tides or winds. I always new that the ocean was a huge part of life but I never really thought about how large until this course. 

~ R. G.

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Final Oceanography Reflection

Student Post

 Final Essay

            The most important thing a person can do is discover the world around them. There is no life more meaningless than one led without a thirst for knowledge; a yearning to discover the root of existence itself. One’s knowledge of outer space, our Earth, and the oceans surrounding us is vital for a creative and fulfilling life. The latter, our vast seas, are the focus of oceanography, which is why this class was so important for not only my academic career (I would like to major in either environmental studies or marine biology), but also for satisfying my natural craving of new thoughts and ideas. Spanning one semester, this class has taught me a range of information relating to ocean physics. Endless assignments, lengthy labs, and study questions have exercised my mind for the past five months, and countless connections can be made between each assignment, forming a map of ocean information.

            Initially, we covered the basics of how civilizations interacted with the ocean. For example, three primary reasons for early man to interact with the ocean were food gathering, to discover new lands, and for trade. We smoothly transitioned into an ocean exploration project, where we learned about certain explorers and the lands they discovered by sailing. The Polynesians, for example, were the first known explorers to practice open-ocean seafaring beyond sight of land.  After researching well-known ocean scientists, we moved on to how the oceans work.

            Something we concentrated greatly on was how the ocean affects everything around it. Specifically, we talked about hurricanes, tides, and currents. We did a hurricane tracking lab in which we discovered how currents affect the direction and intensity of a hurricane, and how hurricanes are tracked.  A hurricane is formed when air from a surrounding area with higher air pressure pushed into a low pressure area, which rises. Surrounding air swirls to take its place and clouds are formed as the air rises and cools. Clouds and wind spin and grow, gaining energy from the ocean’s heat and evaporating water.  They lose a lot of their energy when they come in contact with land, and tracking them is extremely vital for our safety. We use satellites to track hurricanes. The movement of a hurricane can be changed by currents. Currents include horse latitudes, gyres, west wind drifts, equatorials, and more. Another movement of the ocean is its tides. Tides are caused by the pull of the moon, and vary depending on where you are in the world. Here on our beaches we have two tides a day, high and low, which move and dispense sand.

            During our sand lab, we looked at sand from various places under a microscope and determined where it was from based on its shape, color, size, etc. This was my favorite lab because it was interesting to see such a miniscule object close up with a distinct shape. I learned how to use the Wentworth scale to determine if the grain was clay, sand, etc. based on the size of the grains. We used the squares on a piece of graph paper as our own scale. There were so many different beaches the sands could have been from- it was like a puzzle. This lab connects very well to our work with currents, because the movement of water has a huge effect on sand- its location, how it got there, and its size. Different currents would carry different groups of sand to different places, and some sand was too big to be transported by water- it was formed by erosion. All of the labs we did can be connected.

            One project that really struck me was our research on plastic in the ocean. Ever since elementary school, I have been quite the environmental activist. I remember seeing pictures of sea creatures trapped in waste such as grocery bags, and getting my mom to switch over to reusables. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been cutting the plastic rings on six-pack holders so they don’t get stuck around the beak of a duck or the shell of a turtle. I felt a strong connection with this activity, though it was a short one. It made my appreciation for this class grow, knowing that we not only learn the technical facts about oceans, but also the creature-related ones. I love learning about how an environment affects the living things around it.

            Overall, I learned so much during this semester of oceanography. It was a great foundation for my future in environmental studies and/or marine biology, and perhaps even an internship at the New England Aquarium. Learning about scientists, explorers, winds, currents, salinity, hydrometers, the moon and tides, different formations in the ocean floor, and more was a fascinating addition to my highschool career. This was a great class and it will have a positive effect on my future studies and career.

~ S.M.

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Ocean currents help navigate objects in the ocean because of the Coriolis Effect as well as gyres, which systemize the currents formations within the ocean. Currents also decide where storms are going too be located because of Ekman transport which controls the winds which blow or navigate the water currents. Ocean currents affect everyday life by putting powerful currents against fishing industry determining the time of return of ships and boats around the worlds ocean. Sea life such as certain fish migrate towards warm ocean currents seasonally therefore also determines the amount of sea food captured by fishermen from their native countries. This is what I know about ocean currents and why they are important in the cycle of the oceans in the world.

I own a house in Machias, Maine located in front of the ocean and bay. The bay has a lobster fishing port where a number trash originates from. Ocean currents out further often transport trash and non degradable waste in front of my home which pollutes many beautiful natural waters and places due to pollution and shifting currents bringing in trash within our bay. This saddens me because plastic products such as bottles to plastic buckets destroy beautiful parts of nature due to the irresponsible of humans and their contamination. Often in the summer I and my family go for boat rides passing random trash within our ocean. In order to stop my dissatisfaction of these waters, I will help retrieve trash in open waters that I encounter. Ever since I was little my father and I have picked up trash washed up on the shores because of someday hoping the world can be cleaner again. If this occurs then pristine beauty as well as life will flourish again bringing the natural world closer to what it was ages ago.
mainecoast

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In Oceanography class we have recently been learning about oceans and how pollution can effect the creatures living in our oceans. We use a lot of plastic in our everyday lives and we need to be more cautious about where that plastic is going in the long run. What most people dont realize is that if we are careless and dont recycle or cut down on the amount of plastic we use, we are hurting sea creatures because of where that plastic ends up. In class, we have learned about currents and we have watched graphic videos of sea creatures being hurt by the plastic that is in our oceans. We need to take action and change how much plastic we use and we need to make sure that we recycle the plastic that we do use. By using less plastic, we can have a big impact on the cleanliness of our oceans and better the lives of the creatures in the oceans. One action that we could take in order to reduce ocean pollution is to make sure that we are recycling all of our plastic. Another thing that we could do to prevent plastic in our oceans is reusing the plastic that we have so that we create less waste in the long run. Keeping our oceans clean is an important thing and we have many ways that we can help keep creatures safe from the harm that plastic poses. Changing minor parts of our every day lives can help ensure a longer, healthier life for the animals that live under the sea!

An example of the destruction that ocean pollution causes in West Hawaii

Mae West, the snapping turtle stuck in six pack can packaging
A video of Mae West in action:

Beth Terry, an activist for a plastic-free life
A link to her blog: http://myplasticfreelife.com

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We have learned about ocean currents, the Coriolis effect, Ekman transport, salinity, densities, and how nutrients are moved throughout the ocean. Through learning all of this, we have learned about the devastating effects that plastic has on the ocean. The ocean is becoming polluted due to plastic. The plastic that is going into the ocean is being moved throughout the oceans. We read stories about rubber duckies, we saw the image of the turtle; it was awful. When learning all of this we decided we need to make changes to help our environment and oceans. One action item Kyle would like to do is to use paper bags instead of plastic ones. Gerry also agrees with this. Calvin will reuse plastic bottles, so that all the plastic does not go into the ocean because there will be less of it. I will now use reusable water canteens instead of plastic Poland Spring water bottles. We will also recycle the plastic Tru Moo containers at lunch. With these simple changes, we believe we could have a positive impact on the ocean and reducing plastic pollution.

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