NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA ship Oscar Dyson
April 29 – May 10, 2013
Greetings! My name is Frank Hubacz, and I teach General Chemistry and Environmental Chemistry at Franklin Pierce University where we are celebrating our 50th Anniversary. Our main campus is located in Rindge, New Hampshire near the base of Mount Monadnock; this 3,165-ft. mountain summit is the most frequently climbed mountain in North America. At Franklin Pierce, we encourage our student body of approximately 1400 students to embrace their education and to achieve academic success through the integration of liberal arts and our various professional programs.
I first started teaching biology in 1976; however my interests soon migrated into the study and teaching of chemistry. I have been teaching general chemistry at Franklin Pierce University since 1992. While attending the 2006 National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Annual Convention in Anaheim, CA I had the good fortune to attend the headline presentation given by Jean-Michele Cousteau. His presentation, entitled “Responsible Living…Because Everything is Connected”, considered the vital relationship between the health of our planet, as monitored by way of the health of the Ocean, and our actions as residents of the Earth. Cousteau offered that, “When we think about our actions as teachers, students, tourists, parents, builders, farmers or name a profession, we must recognize all of our actions have environmental consequences…Because our health depends on the health of the planet, being aware of these connections can help us live responsibly” (NSTA Convention Program Itinerary, 2006). During his appearance, Cousteau impressed upon his audience the importance of understanding how the Ocean can help us to monitor the health of our Earth. Please note that I purposely use the term “Ocean” as opposed to “oceans” to emphasize the interconnectedness of this large body of water that covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface. I then began to reflect upon the fact that I did very little relative to incorporating ocean systems in our study of general chemistry. At this same conference, I was also introduced to the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program (TAS) and decided to apply during my next sabbatical leave in order to experience ongoing Ocean research with the hope of bringing this experience back into the classroom.
My goal as a TAS participant is to use this experience to help me explicitly incorporate Ocean related phenomena into the study of general chemistry topics such as density, conductivity, gas behavior, acid/base chemistry, solubility equilibrium, and kinetics. Additionally, I hope to develop new laboratory exercises that are Ocean related as well as to help students to realize the wealth of live NOAA data available to help them better understand the complexity of the Ocean. As a result I hope that students will gain a better understanding of “ocean chemistry” as well as to develop an appreciation of the interconnectedness among their actions, the health of our planet, and the health of the Ocean. Additionally, by actively participating in an ongoing ocean research project, I will develop a deeper understanding of the various career and research opportunities available for my students to pursue. I hope to convey to them the excitement of discovery as it relates to the Ocean thereby causing them to give serious consideration to following this line of study upon graduation.
A little bit about me…
I live with my wife of 38 years, Joan, in a rural community in central Massachusetts. Our daughter Jessica lives in Vermont and has provided us with three beautiful grandchildren. She currently leads their family’s home-school program and is expecting a new baby in June.
Our son Daniel is currently pursuing his Ph.D. program in Geology at the University of Delaware having completed his Master’s degree at this same institution. His studies focus on fluvial geomorphology.
Whenever possible my wife and I “escape to the Cape” to enjoy all that Outer Cape Cod has to offer. Our favorite activities include kayaking, freshwater, as well as saltwater fishing, dune riding, shell fishing, collecting mushrooms, collecting sea glass on long walks, and the peaceful views of the ocean beaches.
We also have a marine reef aquarium in our home, maintained steadfastly by my wife. The aquarium currently contains many varieties of soft corals that we are learning to propagate along with several types of reef “critters”.
During the winter months I enjoy downhill skiing and am a night-league NASTAR (NAtional STAndard Race) racer on a team known as the Sled Dogs. Our team’s motto, “strive for mediocrity” ensures that we focus on having fun and enjoying a winter’s evening of skiing at our local mountain.
In summary, I am eagerly looking forward to participating in the Teacher at Sea Program aboard the Oscar Dyson and all that this adventure has to offer! I will use this experience to help my students to better understand “ocean chemistry” as well as to develop an appreciation of the interconnectedness among their actions, the health of our planet, and the health of the Ocean.