FHS Ninth Graders Welcome Oceanographer from Princeton University

Imagine writing an equation for the movement of water around a planet that’s spinning.

L-R: Dr. Robert Key, Caroline Pierce (granddaughter and FHS student), Tonalee Key (wife), Melissa Pierce (daughter)

FHS Ninth Grade Center students in Ms. Cleveland’s science class gained a wealth of knowledge from Dr. Robert M. Key, Research Oceanographer at Princeton University today. Key’s granddaughter, Caroline, is a student at the FHS NGC and was in the class as he presented on topics of global warming and choosing oceanography and other sciences as a career.

“I want to introduce students to the idea of oceanography who may not have ever thought of it,” said Key. “We hope to provide an opportunity for teachers and students to experience the excitement of cutting edge science at the same time as those who are researching it.”

Key, who has traveled to more than 50 countries in his oceanography career spanning four decades, shared his experiences with the class while showing them an airtight module that gathers data. The module otherwise known as a “float” is dropped in the southern ocean to gather data to be analyzed by a team of scientists. Key has been a data manager on these projects for several cruises throughout his career.

Ms. Eboni Cleveland, science teacher

“When I was working in the chemistry department at Texas Tech, I wondered ‘how can I do chemistry and travel the world?'” said Key. “I realized the world of oceanography would get me there, so I transferred to A&M and the rest is history. I want each of you to realize that there are opportunities in math, science, chemistry and geography at every level that allow you to do a job that’s not behind a desk.”

After Dr. Key gave his presentation about the floats and his experience at sea, students had the opportunity to ask questions and see the module up close. The class ended with Ms. Cleveland demonstrating to students how the floats operate in water with a bottle and eye dropper.

Lil Sinker before deployment into the south Indian Ocean

“My favorite part about having Dr. Key here is the fact that my students get to learn the real-life application of a study like this,” said Cleveland. “We are living in a time where global warming is a real threat, and the research being done to help eliminate it is very important. They get to learn about the effects it’s having on earth and what they can do to help.”

FHS participated in a float adoption process last year that ties into the work Key does every day. The FHS float, named “Lil Sinker,” was deployed into the southwestern Indian Ocean in January of this year and has been tracking data since. Frenship Middle School adopted a float as well and named it “Maximum Ride.”

Students can continue to track their adopted floats throughout the year through blogs and data websites from the cruises. The floats are estimated to emerge from the winter ice by the end of the year.

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