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NOAA- Office of Ocean Exploration and Research holds development workshop

First time working directly with teachers in Am Samoa

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration and Research hosted a two-day professional development workshop last week, for local educators of the kindergarten level all the way up to community college.

The workshop centered on the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection and the question: “Why Do We Explore the Deep Water Areas around American Samoa?”

Fifty teachers attended the first day of the workshop last Thursday, and more showed up on Friday. The event, held at the Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center, was open to all formal and informal teachers of local public and private schools.

Leading the discussion was Susan E. Haynes, the education program manager and contractor for NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research who explained that last week’s workshop was a first.

 “This is our first time working directly with teachers in American Samoa,” she said via email, in response to Samoa News inquiries. “What an exceptional group of dedicated teachers, and a wonderful opportunity to share resources and activities with them that will help them encourage and educate the next generation of ocean explorers and ocean stewards!”

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries partnered up with the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the American Samoa Department of Education to make the workshop a reality.

According to NOAA, “All life on Earth relies on the ocean — yet, the ocean is 95 percent unexplored, unknown and unseen by human eyes.”

Furthermore, “The waters of American Samoa are home to extensive coral reefs, including some of the oldest and largest coral heads in the world, along with deep water reefs, hydrothermal vent communities, and rare marine archaeological resources. Due to their unique value, these waters are protected through special designations: the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa and Rose Atoll Marine National Monument.”

The Sanctuary, initially designated by Congress in 1986 and later expanded in 2012, was established “to protect and preserve an example of a pristine tropical marine habitat and coral reef terrace ecosystems of exceptional biological productivity.”

In 2009, President Bush designated the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument for the purpose of protecting its dynamic reef ecosystem. “The Monument and Sanctuary are thought to support the greatest diversity of marine life in the National Marine Sanctuary System.” 

Next summer, the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, America’s first federal ship dedicated to ocean exploration, will be exploring the deep waters around American Samoa, the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument, and the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (NMSAS).

“The ship provides a unique opportunity through its telepresence enabled remotely operated vehicle for students and teachers to participate in deep-sea research in real time! Ship activities will focus on a combination of science, education and outreach objectives that support management decisions at multiple levels. An essential part of the Okeanos Explorer’s mission is to enhance ocean science literacy and to build interest in careers that support ocean-related work.”

Last week’s ‘Professional Development’ opportunity for local educators were to “introduce standards-based, hands-on activities, and other online resources that guide classroom teaching and learning, focused on the importance of ocean exploration in this region,” Haynes explained.

Ocean health, unique underwater habitats, underwater mapping and remotely operated vehicles are just a few of the topics that were addressed.

Participating educators received the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 1: Why Do We Explore? (Focused on Climate Change, Energy, Ocean Health and Human Health); and Volume 2: How Do We Explore? (Focused on modern technology for ocean exploration including multi-beam sonar, water column sensors, and remotely operated vehicles).

More information on what the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer has been doing for the past two years, and what is planned for 2017, can be obtained by logging on to: okeanos/explorations/capstone/ welcome.html


Susan Haynes is the Education Program Manager for NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and has been with the program for eight years. The office currently focuses a significant portion of their education programming on the expeditions associated with the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, America’s first federal ship of exploration.

Haynes has dedicated her career to engaging marine scientists in student and teacher education, and to sharing the value and excitement of ocean exploration with people of all ages