Paul Spatafore and Shannon Rubin’s geographers experienced the real world with the help of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Officers (NOAA), Alice and John, who visited Big Picture on Thursday, Oct 17th. After introductions and explanations about their jobs, career and education paths, Alice and John gave a presentation and lead a discussion on hydrography*, sonar and sea floor charting techniques. Students then experienced sounding (mapping the ocean floor) lead line techniques first-hand in an interactive activity. Students were divided into small groups and given a sounding box, measuring sticks, and a grid locator map. The top of the box was outfitted with a permeable cloth outlined in a grid pattern. Each group used their calibrated sticks to measure each grid intersection plotting the contours of their ocean floors. Once mapped, speculations flew as to what was in their boxes. Depleted of ideas and anxious to see the ocean floor, box lids were raised as hoots and hollars erupted. Sponge Bob’s pineapple house, sunked model ships, ocean mountains, and much more excited our hydrographers.
*Hydrography is the science that measures and describes the physical features of bodies of water and the land areas adjacent to those bodies of water. NOAA conducts hydrographic surveys to measure the depth and bottom configuration of water bodies. The data is used to update nautical charts and develop hydrographic models.