Thursday, August 25, 2011

Welcome to SMORE!

Welcome to SMORE!

A research-based project  that partners middle and high school classrooms with researchers Dr. Patricia (Tish) Yager (University of Georgia at Athens) and Dr. Marc Frischer (Skidaway Institute of Oceanography) to monitor and compare human impact on biogeochemical interactions in coastal waters. Eutrophication, the pollution of water caused by excessive nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, impacts watersheds and in turn upsets the balance of marine microbial communities when freshwater meets the ocean.

Project Manager Lollie Garay and her students at Redd Middle School (Houston TX) will team up with  Joy McCook's high school students at the Bradwell Institute (Hinesville GA), and Deb Greene’s students at Eben Hopson Middle School (Barrow, Alaska) to conduct the sampling and reporting.  So, what do students in coastal Texas, Georgia, and Alaska all have in common? They’re all part of the same ocean!

Working in their own unique coastal environments, students from three distinct cultures will be actively engaged in sample and data collection to monitor nutrient loads in freshwater sources and in coastal estuaries. They will share their data and results with each other and with mentor scientists to develop an understanding of locale specific impacts on the global ocean.

By learning about their local watersheds and coastal oceans, conceptual understanding of the intricate relationship between us and the global ocean is strengthened, as well as the understanding of how all Earth systems interact. Moreover, it immerses students in ocean science topics that are traditionally underrepresented in classroom curricula, such as the oceanic carbon, nitrogen and biological cycles. Through SMORE, students will experience the process of authentic research and gain new knowledge about people and science in unique parts of the country.

The idea for SMORE was born out of Lollie’s efforts to integrate Dr. Yager’s research on critical biogeochemical cycles into classroom curricula and educational outreach.  Lollie and Dr. Yager teamed up after they met on an international PolarTREC Antarctic expedition in 2007 ( Later she joined her in the mid-Atlantic as a member of the ANACONDAS team (  This year she worked with the Arctic Nitro team in Barrow where she also met Dr. Frischer. You’ll learn more about their research and the participating classrooms as the project unfolds!

Throughout the SMORE project, students, teachers and mentor scientists will post blogs and podcasts to share their experiences. This project is funded through a 2011 Toyota Tapestry Award in Environmental Science.

SMORE creates a platform for transforming abstract climate change debate into a learning experience that looks at human impact on global change from a different view- the ocean! 

Join us on the adventure :)