Earlier this week my advisor Chad and I visited Mrs. St. Pierre’s 7th grade science class at Bellbrook Middle School (Bellbrook is a suburb of Dayton, Ohio). We taught the students what it means to be an oceanographer and explained all the different types of oceanography in practice (i.e. chemistry, biology, physics, geology, climate, and engineering). I also explained why I study mercury in the ocean and what it’s like to live and work on a research vessel. Below are a few examples of questions asked by the kids:
1. Are their dinosaurs at the bottom of the ocean?
Hmm…this question really made me think. During the Mesozoic era when dinosaurs lived, the supercontinent Pangaea was breaking apart to form the modern continents we know today. As the continents moved, it’s possible that some fossilized remains were subducted with continental material deep into the ocean. I found one example in the North Sea where the knucklebone of a Plateosaurus was found over 2000 meters deep (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060425091449.htm). I would say yes, it is possible that their are dinosaur bones at the bottom of the ocean, however, I suspect they are extremely difficult to find!
2. Why is the cruise path so “squiggly?”
If you scroll down to the previous post you will see a map of the cruise track and it is in fact, quite squiggly. Each dot on the map represents a station we will occupy during the cruise. The stations are designed to capture different chemical changes in the water and geological features on the ocean floor. The squiggly arrangement of stations allows us to study gradients, for example, near the coast of South America oxygen concentrations will change dramatically and by moving in and out of this region we can see how the water chemistry is affected by this change.
3. What do you call a fish that is made of two sodium atoms?
Ok, this one was a joke shared by one of the students rather than a question, but I think it warrants further attention (fyi, on the periodic table of elements the chemical symbol for sodium is “Na). The answer….a tuNa.