Posted March 30, 2015
Hannah Aichelman, Sarah Davies and Matt Kanke are in the 2015 class of the Researcher Educator Exchange Forum. Also known as REEF, this professional development workshop trains scientists to communicate their research to general audiences. Scientists will collaborate with educators to present an outreach program at an informal science center. REEF is sponsored by the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence SouthEast.
Aichelman, Davies and Kanke are members of the Castillo Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Lab manager Aichelman has seen much of life above the sea, including sailing a tall ship from Tahiti to Hawaii. She will next study life under the ocean, as she researches corals in Belize and Panama.
Davies is a postdoctoral researcher at the lab. Her marine science career began in Canada, where she sank a pig leg in the ocean just to see what fed on it. Her current research is far more advanced, focusing on the dispersal of corals in the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico.
Kanke, a lab volunteer, was born in Wisconsin, moved to Texas for graduate school, and recently became a North Carolina resident after completion of his doctoral degree. Despite studying the genetics of fruit flies, his true passion is marine science, an endeavor that has taken him to many islands across the Pacific.
On a Saturday in February, we made our way from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences to educate museum visitors about the fascinating differences between fluorescence and bioluminescence in the ocean.
Fluorescence is the visible or invisible light emitted by some animals in the ocean as a result of absorbing light energy. Bioluminescence is when the animal can produce and emit its own light.
To teach the public about these different forms of exciting color in the ocean, we used a combination of fluorescent crayons, glow-stick bracelets and glowfish with black lights.
It was great fun for all involved. That day, we chatted with more than 100 children and their families about the wonders of light in the ocean.
Here are some pictures from that day.
Read more about REEF in Coastwatch magazine: Meeting of the Minds: Scientists and Teachers Connect and Coastal Scientists Boost K-12 STEM Education.