The way in...literally and metaphorically for many students!
No, not Orcinus orca...the Ocean Research College Academy, an Everett Community College-based program and creation of director (and biologist, mentor, educator, USCG certified captain, grant-writer, development specialist...the list goes on and on) Ardi Kveven. I met Ardi at the ASLO conference in New Orleans in 2013, and was stunned that I hadn't heard of her program before. They use a cohort approach, serving running start students at Everett Community college with ocean sciences as the unifying concept behind core learning in English, Math, Science, History, etc. The students take part in monthly (give or take) cruises in Possession Sound and, at this point (~10 years in) have an astonishing long term data set, not to mention a track record of student success.
I joined cruise #64, with the Hat Island ferry as our research platform. My goal in going was to: 1) try to understand more about how to do STEM education and ocean sciences education right (Ocean Literacy and Workforce Development is one of WA Sea Grant's Critical Program Areas) and also 2) try to steal as many ideas as I could for my own Oceanography class at Peninsula College.
I definitely got what I came for - I'm impressed. I had a great day talking to students, watching them deploy instruments, manage data and samples, and describe their processes to me. A few more photos of the day:
pre-cruise prep in the lab
ORCA's location in the Everett Marina makes the trip to the research vessel a breeze - a 5 minute walk
Students from ORCA prepare to deploy instruments off of the bow of the Hat Island ferry
An ORCA student handles a sediment sample
Just a taste of ORCA's beautiful new shore facility