On a July morning, Ocean Network Canada staff met with high-achieving students from across Canada as part of a PEEL Summer Academy program hosted at the University of Victoria.
Ocean Networks Canada’s Natasha Ewing and Tom Dakin were invited to introduce ocean observatory science and technology to twenty students who are of grade nine age, but working at a university level. The students—many from the Ontario region— were taking part in a two-week West Coast Marine Discovery Camp, which included time to absorb the sites around Victoria while learning about first nations culture and some of the ocean-related programs offered at UVic and Pearson College.
Exploring the geography of the oceans
The students were split into two groups: one group took in the Ocean Networks Canada presentation while the other met with grad students Norma Serra and Caty Brandon from the Geography Coastal and Ocean Resource Analysis Laboratory (CORAL).
In the geography lab, the students were introduced to Google Earth-Ocean using multi-touch table technology that let them have fun while navigating the oceans interface with their fingertips. Each group was sent on a treasure hunt to acquaint them with different marine themes, from protected areas to species at risk and the impact of human activities on marine environments.
Connecting the sea floor to the Internet
The Ocean Networks Canada presentation highlighted ocean health and an overview of the Observatories. Natasha shared examples of research projects and data from both the VENUS observatory in the Salish Sea and deep sea NEPTUNE observatory in the northeast Pacific. Tom explained why we measure the ocean and described the different sensors and instrument technology used in marine science. He focused on one acoustic instrument—the hydrophone—showing how spectrographs are interpreted, and the different applications for high and low frequency hydrophones. The students heard orca calls and even the sound of an earthquake sped up 150 times!
Tom’s comment: “I’d like to thank the students for their thoughts on a mystery sound that had perplexed us for several days–it was an ‘Ah-ha’ moment. We had been attributing some curious sounds to nearby military exercises, but the students probably correctly identified the sounds as a whale breaching.”
For further information:
PEEL West Coast Marine Discovery program
PEEL Summer Academy
University of Victoria