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Wetlands and Aquatic Research Center - Florida
Cruise Log: 9/20/2009
Flat Isabel Goes on a Research Cruise
Flat Isabel is a friend of Flat Stanley. Flat Stanley is the title character of a children's book and has become the basis of a popular school project that promotes literacy, writing skills, and 'connectivity' between students and new people, places, and activities. The Flat Stanley Project [http://www.flatstanley.com/] was started in 1995 by Dale Hubert, a grade school teacher in Canada. There are variations on the project, but usually the class reads the book and then they make paper Flat Stanley's (or flat versions of themselves). These figures are then mailed to other people who are asked to treat them like visiting guests. The hosts typically take photographs of the paper doll with local landmarks or participating in interesting activities and then return the doll with the photos and sometimes maps, postcards, or other souvenirs. The students then get to learn about all the places their various 'flat friends' have visited. It is particularly appropriate for Flat Isabel to go to sea with us this year, since the Flat Stanley Project has declared 2009 "The Year of Science" and in collaboration with the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science, is inviting students and teachers to send Flat Stanley on scientific adventures of all kinds.
Hanging With The Scientists
"Flat Isabel" was sent on this research cruise by Isabel Castro of Alpharetta, Georgia. Like her maker, Flat Isabel is a cheerleader and has been keeping the scientists' morale up during the their 12 hour shifts. She has toured the research vessel Seward Johnson, supervised loading of sampling gear onto the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible, and participated in the sorting and photographing of deep-sea animals we've collected, including fish (photo), a variety of crabs and corals. Of course, it's not all work and no play! When Flat Isabel isn't on a duty watch, she has the same options to relax that the science team has - she can go on deck and get a little sun, read a book from the ship's library, work out on the treadmill or stationary bike, watch a movie in the lounge, or catch up on her sleep before the next 12 hour shift!
Today (Sunday) was a big day for Flat Isabel (and me)! It was finally our turn to dive with the submersible. We visited a site called Viosca Knoll (VK862) and collected some Lophelia coral for my microbial ecology study. I sampled these same coral mounds in 2004, so this is a rare opportunity to look at anything that might have changed in the last five years. Flat Isabel had a 180 degree view of the ocean floor from the front acrylic sphere of the submersible (photo). I'm betting she's the only one in her class who will have been to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico (1000 feet deep) and back!
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