Pound students hear from UNL student, scientist working on ocean

Real Science in Real Time came to life at Pound Middle School for seventh- and eighth-grade students as Anica Brown's science classes were able to video conference with the JOIDES Resolution (JR), an ocean drilling, core sampling science research vessel this past week. The JR does sediment core research in all of Earth's oceans. Presently, the JR is off the coast of Japan in the Philippine Sea sampling cores in the subduction zone in the Marian Trench area. During each expedition, a crew and staff of scientists spend time at sea drilling for cores from under the ocean sea floor, taking and examining samples that verify evidence of Earth's climate history.

During the video conference, students got a tour of the ship, saw the tall derrick where they set up the core drill (they do not drill for oil on this ship-only core samples), the catwalk, the science core lab where they describe the core and look for evidence of climate change in the past.

Students liked asking questions of Zack Kita, a UNL doctoral student and micropaleontologist, who studies nannofossils, and is currently on the JR. Zack had come out to Pound to talk to the students prior to his departure late March when he boarded the ship. Making a connection with Zack before he left made the video even more interesting for the students since they knew someone on the ship.

Students learned how scientists work in the core lab doing science research, how everyone has a 12 hour shift of work each day, and the discoveries they are finding about subduction zones at deep ocean trenches. Students got to ask Zack questions about what he likes best about the ship. He said the midnight to noon shift was interesting to get used to since those aren't the hours he normally works, but he likes the research he is conducting on nannofossils found in the sediment cores. When the cores come up, he is one of the first to figure out how old the cores are. Some are 5 million years old. He also likes meeting all the other people from all over the world while working on the ship. They work hard during their twelve-hour shifts, but they have time for fun too, like watching movies, and his favorite is just sitting out on the deck and looking across the ocean. Students understand better the role of real-time, ongoing research, which is so important to the study of our Earth's climate of the past so scientists can compare patterns and systems to today.

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Published: May 9, 2014, Updated: May 15, 2014