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Journals 2004/2005

Laurelynn Brooks
Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, Washington

"Investigating the link between alkenones and sea surface temperature"
R/V New Horizon
July 5-23, 2004
Journal Index:
July 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12

      13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19

      20 - 21 - 22 - 23

July 9, 2004
Meeting the Captain

Delightfully full of French toast and fruit, Richard and I line up ten numbered oxygen bottles to start the standardization of my titration. I use the automated titrater, so different than the old Chemistry 101 method of titrating by hand. I wear blue gloves and add titrant by simply pushing a button.

I can adjust how rapidly I want to add the titrant by turning a dial for increments of .001 ml! I titrate; record the data in my notebook and on the computer spreadsheet, then Richard does the analysis. He says my error is below 1 micromole per liter with a precision of .03ml. I ask him what that really means, since I do not remember my quantitative statistics or know the National Science Foundation's standard of excellence. He says it is good and within the guidelines.

After lunch we do another standard, this time changing the concentration of the manganese, and I lose the stir bar! PANIC! I can not find it anywhere, and have been so careful with the equipment, especially knowing that we can't go buy another one! Using the new technology has really spoiled me! The scientists take their equipment for granted; they have been using it so long and often. Also, automatically the scientists wash the glassware three times. My students take it for granted that the classroom beakers are washed, or else they think there is no consequence if they aren't. I will at least make my students aware by modeling for them. I find the stir bar magnetized to the metal underside of the lab table! Richard plots my new data and we get a straight slope line of near 1 between the titrant and the blank. Yeah! I collect seven samples of seawater as a practice test and start the procedure, which requires a settling of the precipitate within a 4-24 hour period, and pack those bottles away for the night.

This is our third day steaming. We are cruising past the beautiful barren mountains surrounding Magdalena Bay. I thought I would have so much spare time since it takes four days to get to our stations. I want to read the Log from the Sea of Cortez before I get there, but I have been too busy getting ready for my experiments, creating standards and checks. I make it my ritual to observe the sunset every night. I give a "Wahoo", as I see the green flash- and someone welcomes me onboard. It is the Captain. He seems amused and also very unassuming (I would have never guessed he was the Captain). He asks me to call him Murray, but I don't. Captain invites me to look for the green flash through his binoculars. I hesitate, thinking of Galileo and pass up the opportunity.

Later I get on the email and send a note to another teacher at sea, Victor Garcia. He is aboard the Atlantis II using the CTD to study hydrothermal vents on the Juan de Fuca Ridge with the Research Education: Volcanoes Exploring Life (REVEL) Project. The ARMADA Project is different, since I am the only "teacher" aboard this cruise. I enjoy it this way because I can focus all my energy on the scientists. There are so many scientists to learn from on the ship. For example, Bianca shows me photographs of her precious coccoliths from her textbook. She explains how coccoliths need iron, and since iron is a fertilizer of phytoplankton, it correlates to the coccolith population. She wants to use the famous beautiful E. Hux as a proxy for El Nino events. I want to mimic its pattern in my weavings and beadwork. Admiring nature's work of art reminds me that Ida, Terri and I want to create a surprise for our Chief Scientist's birthday before we go below. Laughing and scheming, we create our present in the lab. Finally I crawl into my berth in my windowless cabin, counting on my alarm to wake me instead of the morning light. This reminds me of how I surrounded my oxygen samples with a cardboard blanket. The phytoplankton are kept in the dark so they can not photosynthesize while the precipitate settles.

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