New oceanography course proves popular with students

by: VERN UYETAKE - Lakeridge science teacher Sara Mock enjoys teaching oceanography. The class has been a popular addition to the schools electives.As you enter the classroom you pass by a huge fish tank populated by brightly colored fish. The walls are painted to look like the depths of the ocean. There is no doubt by the décor that you are in Sarah Mock’s oceanography class.

This is the second semester oceanography has been taught at Lakeridge High School and already it is a popular elective with students.

Mock said the fish tank was donated by Tanks for Teachers and students learn much about ocean water by surveying the conditions in the tank on a regular basis. They learn about salinity and other conditions of the ocean environment. Besides classroom work, the students take field trips to learn about oceanography.

“We’ve taken two field trips so far this year,” Mock said. “The first was to study the geological history of the coast and to look at tsunami hazards. For this we went to Seaside and Hug Point State Park. Students looked at rocks to learn about processes at the ancient coastline and they did a tsunami evacuation drill. We also collected sediments from a marsh to look for evidence of past tsunamis.”

The second field trip was to Oregon State University in Corvallis to see a demonstration at the wave tank at the College of Engineering. There, research was being done on wave energy and how it could be converted to generate electricity.

“I never really thought too much about the bottom of the sea,” said Isley Cohen, a junior in the class. “But I am really curious now.” by: VERN UYETAKE - Students observe the fish take in their classroom.

“There are so many things we don’t know about the ocean,” junior Abbie Rooney said. “There are constantly new discoveries.”

Mock has also invited experts from ocean-related industries to visit the class, such as Master Mark Hails, a merchant marine, whose tales of his life as captain aboard 900-foot-long oil tankers in Alaska made quite an impression on senior Carlos Castillo.

“He said there were some wild storms,” Castillo said.

The thought of piloting that large of a ship was exciting to Castillo, plus he liked the title that went with the job.

“How cool is it to be called ‘master?’” he asked.

Kayla Heusman thought oceanography was different from other science classes, such as chemistry.

“But you pull in what you learned in other science classes and apply it here,” she said.

Mock said the class will take a field trip in the spring that will focus more on marine biology.

“Last year we went to Oceanside during A wonderfully low tide and saw lots of organisms in the intertidal community there,” she said. “We collected samples from the ocean side and the bay side of the Bayocean Spit near Tillamook to look at the different ecology and sedimentation and we took a tour of the Whiskey Creek Oyster Hatchery in Netarts, where students learned about the life cycle of oysters, how they are farmed and about the effects of ocean acidification on the industry.”

This spring the class will team up with the oceanography class at Lake Oswego High on a joint field trip, which will make the trip less expensive for both schools.

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