- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - The Ketchikan School District’s 45-foot training boat Jack Cotant is getting a workout during the spring, but a recent trip to Petersburg was a new adventure.

Maritime teacher Rick Collins, ocean science teacher Julie Landwehr and Director of Distance Education and online teacher Mark Woodward took eight students from Kayhi on a multi-day trip to Petersburg and back, leaving Ketchikan on April 23 and returning April 27.

Collins said multi-day maritime trips were common in the 1980s, and he has taken students to Misty Fjords National Monument, but this was the first to Petersburg.

It was the first multi-day trip for Landwehr as well.

“I was really nervous going into this because going on a boat with a bunch of students for nearly a week was really daunting,” Landwehr said. “I spent a lot of time getting ready for it, and it was a lot of work, but it was really rewarding. It was a lot of fun to teach hands-on in the ocean.”

Landwehr said she prepared nearly 72 hours of curriculum for the students, including real-time, hands-on experiments in ocean acidification, collecting plankton tows, reading “Cannery Row” written by John Steinbeck, and keeping a science journal that incorporated art and sketches into recording observations.

“I really enjoyed seeing what they did with their journals,” Landwehr said. “We saw porpoises and we talked a lot about things as we went. The journal was one part that I thought sunk in really well.”

Kayhi junior Keenan Sanderson said he had visited Petersburg as a member of the basketball team, but he liked seeing a different side of the town. He particularly enjoyed learning about stream surveys from a U.S. Forest Service ranger.

“That’s not necessarily marine biology, but it was another little thing that was pretty cool,” Sanderson said, adding that he had left his rubber boots on the boat and had to slog through the muskeg barefoot so as not to lose his shoes in the muck.

Micah Briola, a junior, said she enjoyed doing the plankton tows because it involved learning how to use new equipment.

“We learned how to use a flow meter, which we had seen before, but we can’t use it on the dock,” Briola said.

Collins said the trip was a good opportunity to reflect on things that were going well in the classroom and things that need improvement, but that wasn’t his favorite part of the voyage.

“Me winning at Yahtzee,” Collins laughed, saying that winning was his favorite part of the trip. “We played Yahtzee in the cabin and I had never played it before. I won the second game.”

He also counted seeing the plankton collected in plankton tows “zooming around” on a computer screen hooked up to a generator-powered microscope as a highlight of the trip.

“It’s a long trip so that means a lot of missed school days,” Collins said. “The flip side is it’s an awesome opportunity for the kids.”

Story Continues →