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Guest Blog by Bill Andrake: MME high school science symposium recap

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Thursday, April 30, 2015

For over thirty years, the Massachusetts Marine Educators (MME) chapter have held high school marine science symposia, where high school students and their teachers have an opportunity to hear from speakers and participate in workshop sessions led by scientists, students, educators, and other professionals working in a variety of marine related disciplines

In 2013, after many years of running a single event, MME expanded this program by holding two symposia simultaneously, one on the South Shore of Boston at UMass Dartmouth, as well as an event on the North Shore. This year’s North Shore High School Marine Science Symposium (NSHMSS) was held on March 18 at Salem State University in Salem, Mass. 


The program began with a continental breakfast and welcome from the Salem State Administration and Faculty:  Mary Dunn, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Admissions; Ryan Fisher, Biology Department Chair; and Steve Young, Professor of Geography. Next, students and teachers spent two hours in classrooms and labs for hands-on workshop sessions.

Each student had the opportunity to select and participate in two workshops from the fourteen offered on the program. The sessions engaged students in hands-on activities which covered a wide range of marine related topics. Students were able to explore relevant environmental issues by constructing computer maps of sea level rise as well as perform chemistry experiments to understand ocean acidification.


Through squid and fish dissections, students learned about the fascinating biology of cephalopods and how to determine the age of a fish from its otoliths (ear stones). Techniques for exploring the deep were presented in sessions that mapped shipwrecks and engineered underwater vehicles. Students learned about important ecosystems such as coral reefs and the rocky intertidal and could even play detective as they pieced together the actual skeletons of marine mammals. The 28 workshop presenters included scientists, graduate students, educators, as well as other high school students who shared their projects in ocean stewardship.

Following the workshop sessions, all participants gathered in Veteran’s Memorial Hall for our keynote speaker, Liz Magee, who manages the Three Seas Program and diving operations at Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center located in Nahant, Mass. Liz told the story of her two weeks of living and working under the sea as an aquanaut in Fabien Cousteau’s "Mission 31.” She was a part of a team that conducted over one hundred hours of research in 63 feet of water inside and out of the Aquarius Reef Base off the Florida Keys. It was a fascinating adventure and inspirational story and we were so thankful to have Liz share it with all of us.

Following our keynote address the day concluded with a lunch for all the participants and another successful MME event came to a close.

This year’s NSHSMSS was attended by over 150 students and their teachers. Our South Shore event at UMass Dartmouth did not happen this year, however we do plan to hold it in 2016. The High School Marine Science Symposia are events that MME is especially proud to continue to offer as we fulfill our mission which is to support all educators to inspire students of all ages to be stewards of the ocean. In addition, this event may serve as a vehicle for addressing a "Key Focus Area” in the new strategic plan of the National Marine Educators Association to "Engage Youth Leaders.”

More information about our presenters, workshops, and program can be seen by downloading the program >

For more about MME and other events visit their website>

- Bill Andrake, MME Chapter Rep.

Tags:  MME 

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NMEA 2015 registration is now open

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Thursday, April 30, 2015

NMEA 2015 logoRegistration is now available for our annual conference, which will be held June 29 through July 2 in Newport, RI

Discounted early bird registration rates are available through May 31 (they've been extended!), and online registration will be available until June 24. 

Exhibitor and vendor registration is also available here > 

And don't forget to check out all the fun field trips and book your hotel room at our fabulous group rate, which is only available through June 7! Make your reservation here > 

Tags:  conference 

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Guest Blog by Kate Wade: Connecting to the Community

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Saturday, April 11, 2015
Informal education -seining

There used to only be two ways to reach classroom students as an informal educator: site visits and field trips. These methods have changed. Technology provides us with the ability to enhance these experiences with lessons, discussions, and follow-ups all conducted online. This isn’t a new thing, but it is quickly becoming a more common approach to informal education experiences.

In a time when classroom budgets and lessons are severely restricted, informal educators now have a tool that allows them to squeeze in extra time with students and provide additional enrichment experiences. Not only are educators able to reach the target audience in a more efficient way, but they are also able to connect with one another like never before.

The National Marine Education Association supports and fosters the connection between the classroom and the informal educator and is dedicated to reaching a larger audience. A common component of the 2014 NMEA conference was the importance of communication and the connections and experiences made possible by technology. There is a trend among government organizations, private institutions and local non-profit groups towards the use of social media and video conferencing as a means of reaching target audiences.

Various social media platforms provide the opportunity for organizations to contact and notify an audience outside of their local area. Not only is it an essential tool for educators, the access and connectivity that social media creates is a valuable marketing strategy for many of these institutions. Educators are often a naturally collaborative and communicative community; sharing and creating meaningful connections is important professionally and personally. The connections made through online technology between educators, organizations, and schools are changing the landscape of outreach education.


Organizations across the country offer quality educational experiences throughout the year; yet many schools fail to participate in programming. Online educational opportunities allow informal educators to share lessons, experiments, or experiences with students who may not be able to attend programming due to location or budget constraints. Many informal educational groups are specifically designing programming for presenting online; communicating scientific ideas and developing meaningful cognitive experiences using videos, experiments, and presentations conducted in real-time.

This approach increases the likelihood that students located in communities that have insufficient funding will have the opportunity to participate in programming without the added cost of travel and valuable time away from the classroom. School districts that have limited access to marine science programs due to location are no longer inhibited by distance; students are able to participate in marine science in real-time, virtual classrooms. Online educational programming provides students with access to the marine science community in a new format.

By changing our approach, online technology has given informal educators a means to share our story and our experiences with our target audience. To reach a wide range of audiences we must share the possibilities of online learning experiences and encourage the use social media to increase awareness and improve communication between science organizations and school districts. Information regarding grant funded opportunities, outreach programming, and classroom curriculum will increase the probability of a schools’ participation. The ultimate goal is to connect to classrooms across the country and provide students with marine science experiences and knowledge. To truly expand our audience, we must use online tools of communication to reach those who do not have access to marine science education.

Author Kate Wade was a 2014 Expanding Audiences scholarship recipient. Learn more about the scholarship here > 


Tags:  conference  guest blog  scholarship 

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Our Spring newsletter highlights #NSTA15, #NMEA15 & Current Journal

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Thursday, April 2, 2015
2015 Spring newsletter

Our Spring newsletter is out!

It provides a recap of all the fun that was had at NSTA 2015 in Chicago, updates on our next annual conference, NMEA 2015 in Newport, what's happening with our journal, Current, and other updates from NMEA members!

Didn't see it in your inbox? No worries, you can access it here, and update your contact email or sign-up for future mailings here >

Tags:  newsletter 

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Announcement of nominees for the 2015 NMEA Board Election

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Friday, March 20, 2015

Nominees for the 2015 NMEA board election slate are:

President-Elect Candidate
Tami Lunsford - Delaware

Treasurer Candidate
Jackie Takacs - Maryland

Board of Directors Candidates
Kate Achilles - California
David Christopher - Maryland
Geraldine Fauville - EU (Sweden)
Jessica Kastler - Mississippi
Meg Marrero - New York
Sean Russell - Florida

The general membership of the organization is encouraged to submit other nominees for elected positions on the Board.

Deadline for submissions is April 17 and each submission from the membership must include signatures of at least five members of the organization in addition to the signature of the nominee. Submissions should be sent to Susan Haynes here >

Voting will take place online April 20 - May 20, 2015.

Tags:  Board 

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NMEA at NSTA 2015 in Chicago

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Sunday, March 15, 2015

Thanks to everyone who joined us at the National Science Teachers Association's annual conference in Chicago!

Our Board of Directors had a productive mid-year meeting at the Lincoln Park Zoo, who were wonderful hosts! We hosted the Whale of a Tale Share-a-thon for teachers the following morning at the NSTA conference, with many of our chapters hosting tables with fun activities and useful organizational information.

The Share-a-thon was followed by a full day of educational sessions, with many focusing on Great Lakes literacy. These showcased our GLEAMS chapter- the Great Lakes Educators of Aquatic and Marine Sciences.

Enjoy a few photos of the festivities below - then check out more on our Facebook page here > 














Tags:  NSTA 

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Call for content - Current Journal

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Current Journal We want you to share your ideas, lessons or research in marine education!

The editors of Current: The Journal of Marine Education are seeking articles for upcoming general issues. We seek original manuscripts that describe research, lessons, resources, or strategies for teaching marine and aquatic lessons to a variety of audiences.

Deadlines for 2015 article submissions are March 23, July 20, and September 14.

Please submit manuscripts to Lisa Tooker at for consideration. Information on author guidelines can be found here > 

Tags:  current 

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Guest Blog by Bethany Ricks: Coming Home to NMEA

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Saturday, March 7, 2015

Northwoods“Getting to know home is the most human and necessary of occupations.” But what is home? Is home the “ground at our own feet," as Wendell Berry says? Or is home the entire planet? Is home somewhere in between?

I was thankful to attend the NMEA conference in 2014 as an Expanding Audiences scholarship recipient. I am a graduate student in environmental education, working in the northwoods of Wisconsin. My time in the northwoods has been disorienting, a vast change from my years as a marine educator in Minnesota, South Carolina, and Oregon. Returning to the world of marine education for NMEA 2014 felt like a homecoming, and made me wonder what my parallel worlds of marine education and environmental education can learn from one another.

One of the striking themes of NMEA was how globally-focused we are as marine educators. Coming from my graduate program in environmental education, which focuses narrowly on local ecosystems, returning to the global focus of marine education was a relief. However, both global and local approaches have their flaws. How can the marine education and environmental education communities learn from one anothers’ approaches?

In my experience, marine education is necessarily global. When I was teaching about gray whales on the Oregon coast, it was impossible to only discuss gray whales’ time in Oregon; we also needed to discuss their lives in Alaska and in Baja California. Climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing and bycatch: these are all global issues. In fact, the Ocean Literacy Principles reflect a global vision of marine education:Canoe paddle

  1. The Earth has one big ocean with many features.
  2. The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth.
  3. The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate.
  4. The ocean made Earth habitable.
  5. The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.
  6. The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.
  7. The ocean is largely unexplored.


Our global vision of marine education is useful, but it can be exhausting if not tied to local experiences. The Earth is huge, and any one person is small; how can any of us really make a difference? How can I care, when the problems feel abstract? Perhaps one way to combat this feeling is to develop caring for a nearby, familiar place.

LichenWhen I began my graduate program in environmental education, I experienced some culture shock as I learned about environmental education methods that were incredibly locally-focused. I found myself crawling on my knees along a meter of string, noticing everything along it, from lichen to leaf litter to insects. I found myself identifying local trees, local soils, and local birds, without much thought to the bigger picture. I was exploring my own backyard, but I had no idea how that backyard fit into the world.

The methods have helped me to know this one place, but not how this place fits into the world. To “watch a spider construct a web; observe a caterpillar systematically ravaging the edge of a leaf; close your eyes, cup your hands behind your ears, and listen to aspen leaves rustle or a stream muse about its pools and eddies” may help one to fall in love with one’s little corner of the world, but not how to protect it. For that, the global view of marine education helps: this little corner of the world matters to me, and it is affected by forces both near and far. This is summed up nicely by John Muir Laws:

Love of nature is the spring from which stewardship flows. In contrast, disconnection from nature leads to apathy in the face of all environmental problems. A useful way to define love is sustained, compassionate attention.

DragonflyLike all the best learning experiences, NMEA left me asking questions. How can we all bring a little more global perspective to our locally-focused programs, and a little more local perspective to our globally-focused programs? How can we help people care through local focus, while giving them the tools to act on issues, both globally and locally? What does home mean to me? To my students? I am still wrestling with these questions, months later, and I am thankful for the experience that spurred them.

All photos courtesy of author Bethany Ricks, a 2014 Expanding Audiences scholarship recipient. Learn more about the scholarship here > 

Tags:  conference  scholarship 

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We're heading to Chicago!

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Saturday, March 7, 2015

NSTA Share-a-thonWe're heading to the Windy City for the National Science Teachers Association's annual conference!

Our Board of Directors will be Chicago-bound to conduct their annual mid-year meeting on Wednesday, March 11, at the Lincoln Park Zoo, who has graciously offered to host the gathering. Then on Thursday, March 12, our chapters will offer a fun-filled day of NMEA-hosted workshops, including quick make-and-take activities for teachers! 

This Whale of a Tale Share-a-thon is always a large draw for teachers at the NSTA conferences. Each of our chapters hosts a table to provide activities and organizational information to attending teachers.

Afterwards, we are looking forward to another great day of workshops - with many focusing on Great Lakes literacy. This event will also be a tremendous opportunity to increase interest in our GLEAMS chapter- the Great Lakes Educators of Aquatic and Marine Sciences. NSTA Share-a-thon

Current members and individuals who are interested in learning more about NMEA are encouraged to stop by the McCormick Place Convention Center on Thursday to join in the learning. The room opens at 8 a.m. for the Share-a-thon, which will be followed by hour-long sessions until 6 p.m. Follow the NMEA signs and look for the door decorations provided by our GLEAMS chapter!

Session Schedule for NSTA Chicago 2015

8 to 9 a.m. Whale of a Tale Share-a-thon with Lauren Rader and NMEA Chapters

9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Great Lakes Literacy ... Coming Soon to a Classroom near You with Lyndsey Manzo, Kristin TePas, Cynthia Hagley, and Terri Hallesy

11 a.m. to Noon Creatively Engaging Middle School in the science of Ocean
Acidification with Perrin Chick

12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The Climate Expedition: Exploring Local Impacts of a Global Issue with Lyndsey Manzo

2 to 3 p.m. Set Sail with GLEAMS! with Lyndsey Manzo and Brandon Mullins

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Ocean for Life: A cross roads of Western and Middle Eastern students learning about one global ocean with Tracy Hajduk, Kate Thompson, and Clare Fackler

5 to 6 p.m. Ocean 180 Video Challenge: Bringing Ocean Scientists to a Classroom Near You with Laura Diedrick

Tags:  NSTA 

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Make your trip to NMEA 2015 even more special with a visit to Block Island

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Saturday, February 21, 2015

Block IslandNMEA 2015 will have a wide variety of field trips, which we will highlight here as we get closer to the conference. We are starting with this trip to Block Island because it is limited to 22 participants and early sign-up is highly encouraged - especially to obtain your preference in lodging accommodations!

It will be an active and moderately strenuous introduction to Block Island, a 10 square mile island located 13 miles off the Rhode Island coast with a winter population of about a thousand residents. The trip will include an overnight stay at either The Surf Hotel or The National Hotel, both overlooking Old Harbor.

Available rooms at this peak holiday time on Block Island do differ to some extent and will be assigned on a first come/first choice basis (with an option to upgrade if available).

The field trip itself will include:

  • Ferry excursion to and from Block Island
  • An island tour
  • A “wet & dirty” salt marsh exploration
  • An update on Native American archaeological sites exposed by recent erosion
  • A visit to the Block Island Historical Society
  • An early morning kayak expedition across the Great Salt Pond accompanied by local naturalists
  • Lighthouse tours
  • An update on the Deep Water Wind Offshore project
  • A geological “plunge” off the bluffs
  • A visit to Sun Farm Oysters with its solar upwellers
  • A guided beach hike to the North Light surrounded by dunes filled with nesting gulls

Check out this short video from the Block Island Tourism Council for a peek at what makes the island so special:

Interested in learning more? Visit our Block Island field trip page for full details. If you have any questions, need further information about this trip, or are ready to lock in your hotel and room assignment and register, please contact Lorrie Martin via e-mail here> 

Photo by Block Island Tourism Council - see more here > 

Tags:  conference  NMEA15 

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