“I want to be a scientist when I grow up!”

by Amy Vandehey

“When I got accepted into the NOAA Fisheries Science Camp, I was so excited because I knew I was going to learn more about marine topics I was interested in. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I had an idea that NOAA did a lot of cool research all over the world because I do watch a lot of documentaries. I was very interested in what NOAA Fisheries does for our State of Hawai‘i, as well.” ~ Marlon, science camper


Marlon and other campers learn about casting and the importance of data in fisheries management.

Expectations were high as the students filed out of the school bus one bright summer morning to attend the 2016 NOAA Fisheries Science Camp at the NOAA Inouye Regional Center in Honolulu. They had only seen a small preview of what was in store for them at the third annual summer camp, with the overarching theme, “Using Technology to Study Ocean Life and Ecosystems.”

A week of absorbing new skills and information come together in the final mystery scenario challenge. Here a camper completes her team's proposed research plan.

A week of absorbing new skills and information come together in the final mystery scenario challenge. Here a camper completes her team’s proposed research plan.

The NOAA-sponsored summer camp targeted incoming 8th grade students in underserved communities and charter schools on Oʻahu and was completely free for participants. The five-day camp consisted of six different science modules, a field trip to visit the Waikīkī Aquarium and conduct a beach cleanup, and culminated with an activity that challenged the students to use information and skills learned at camp to solve a mystery scenario.

Almost 40 NOAA Fisheries and JIMAR staff and interns developed and taught the science modules, while four Waikīkī Aquarium docents, three science teachers, and one oceanography undergraduate student volunteered their time to participate as camp small group leaders. Together, they provided a unique hands-on experience for the campers in current fisheries research areas, such as marine debris, fish sampling techniques and stock assessments, marine food webs, plankton, Hawaiian monk seals, and fisheries-dependent data.

In addition, a recent NOAA grant allowed a middle school science teacher, who was a camp small group leader in 2015, to develop educator’s kit lessons based off of the science modules. These kit lessons will bring NOAA science to students during the school year and contain lesson plans that meet Hawai‘i Department of Education standards, instructions, materials, and supplemental information that teachers can borrow for free.

A student identifies zooplankton under a microscope using a simple dichotomous key.

A student identifies zooplankton under a microscope using a simple dichotomous key.

After completing the 2016 camp, Marlon described his experience as opening a “wide window of opportunities”:

“One of the many parts of the science camp I enjoyed was the plankton module activities. We examined planktonic stages by viewing it through microscopes. I thought that was pretty cool because I was able to see the physical changes of plankton at each stage of their life cycle. The field trip to the Waikīkī Aquarium was also very memorable because after learning about the different tanks and research at the aquarium, we later then contributed to cleaning up trash from the beach side. It always feels great to help our community in various ways.

I’ve always wanted to be a scientist when I grow up. Fossils, dinosaurs, and marine animals are my greatest interests within the past few years. I really want to be a marine biologist, but I don’t know yet what specific area I would want to study or research. My experiences at NOAA Fisheries Science Camp just opened a wide window of opportunities for me.”

Campers, NOAA staff and small group leaders gather at the back of the NOAA IRC Building on the first day of camp.

Campers, NOAA staff and small group leaders gather at the back of the NOAA IRC Building on the first day of camp.

PIFSC Web-Based GIS Mapping Tools Go Live

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) has launched a series of new web-based geographic information system (GIS) mapping tools for the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument (MTMNM). To access the tools, click on the following link: MTMNM ArcGIS Online Mapping Tools

MTMNM mapping tool screenshot 1

The Mariana Trench Marine National Monument Pilot Mapping Project team consists of Risa Oram (Project Lead), Bryan Dieter (Lead GIS Specialist), Annette DesRochers (Data Manager) and Tomoko Acoba (GIS Specialist). Our regional contacts for the tool include Michael Trianni in Saipan and Eric Cruz in Guam. The project is supported with NMFS Marine National Monument funding.

Phase 1 of this pilot project began in January 2015 with a goal to improve access to PIFSC data collected in the Mariana Archipelago through the use of online mapping tools. The need for this project was identified during a 2013 PIFSC Monuments Science research planning workshop in Saipan. The long-term goal for these tools is to serve as a repository and data dissemination portal for PIFSC geospatial data collected within the Marine National Monuments. As a pilot project, this effort focuses on building a framework that includes the appropriate technology and data management workflows. The result of phase 1 is a collection of thematic online mapping tools highlighting various PIFSC objectives, including fisheries research, cetacean surveys, coral reef monitoring, benthic habitat mapping, oceanographic information and PIFSC research cruises. These data are distributed using a combination of ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Server technologies. In addition to providing the online platform for viewing these data, the tools also include the ability to download data, access InPort metadata, perform data queries, and create printable maps and figures.

MTMNM mapping tool screenshot 2

In 2016, as we transition into Phase 2 of the project, we have recently partnered with NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) Monuments and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to customize the application by consolidating the individual thematic maps into a single interface that allows the user to choose which data types to display. We are also expanding the tool to additional regions within the U.S. Pacific Islands, adding new data for the existing Marianas region, expanding the capabilities of the tool, and improving the data management workflow. We are currently seeking additional partnering opportunities. Please contact us if you are interested in collaborating.

For more information about PIFSC: http://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/

Project Contacts

Risa Oram, Project Lead
Phone: (808) 725-5348
Email: risa.oram@noaa.gov

Bryan Dieter, Lead GIS Specialist
Phone: (808) 725-5536
Email: bryan.dieter@noaa.gov

Michael Trianni, CNMI Liaison
Phone: (670) 285-0014
Email: michael.trianni@noaa.gov

Eric Cruz, Guam Liaison
Phone: (671) 797-0801
Email: eric.cruz@noaa.gov