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Dover Post
  • William Henry Middle teacher headed to Alaska for Teacher at Sea program

  • Mary Murrian, a fifth-grade math and science teacher at Dover’s William Henry Middle School, is gearing up to spend 19 days on a boat catching fish.
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  • Mary Murrian, a fifth-grade math and science teacher at Dover’s William Henry Middle School, is gearing up to spend 19 days on a boat catching fish.
    “I’m just excited, I’m very excited,” she said. “I can’t wait.”
    Murrian recently was accepted into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Teacher at Sea program.
    On Wednesday, she’ll arrive at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and then from Friday to July 23, she’ll be working 12 hour shifts in the Bering Sea.
    Murrian is one of 25 teachers who were chosen to embark on such endeavors, in part because of her math and science background, NOAA spokeswoman Jennifer Hammond said.
    “We also selected her because she wrote an excellent application on how she would bring those experiences back to her students by blogging, taking photos and videos at sea,” Hammond explained
    In the fall, Murrian plans to share her hands-on experience with her students and inform them of the real world applications of science.
    “I want them to know how important it is to protect our wildlife and think about the future of the environment and the effect we have,” she said. “Besides that, I want them to see that science is not only important, it is a lot of fun and can be useful. A lot of times I teach math and kids are like, ‘When will I use this in the real world?’ With science there are more applications and I can show them what careers you can get. I can show them that math is involved.”
    Aside from broadening the horizons students, the purpose of the trip is to survey the Alaskan Walleye Pollock population. Murrian will be one of eight scientists aboard the ship, who will count, measure and study the fish’s impact on the ecosystem. Walleye Pollock is used in fish sticks and imitation crabmeat, and is one of the nation’s most havested fish, according to NOAA.
    Her students won’t be the only ones who will learn from her experiences.
    Murrian says she plans to blog two to four times a week while in Alaska. Anyone can access the blog but her students from last school year were given the link so they could follow along on her journey.
    That journey will begin Wednesday, when Murrian is set to trade the 80 plus degree temperatures of Delaware for the high 40s ad low 50s of Anchorage. In addition to adjusting to the temperature change, she’ll have to grow accustomed to round the clock sunlight because the sun doesn’t ever fully set in Alaska this time of year.
    Page 2 of 2 - Ever the optimist, Murrian said she is looking at it as a teaching opportunity.
    “It’s just an experience of a lifetime,” she said. “I teach my students sky watches and we talk about the reason why there are different lengths of day in different parts of the country and the reason for the seasons and what causes night and day. This is just another experience to relay to them. “
    After arriving in Anchorage she’ll take a small plane, called a puddle jumper, to Dutch Harbor, where she’ll board the Oscar Dyson. After spending 19 days on board the boat, Murrian will spend the last few days of her trip in a lab, before returning home on July 24.
    “I’m very blessed,” she said. “I’m just going to go off and enjoy the experience.”

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