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Lemont teacher Julie Johnson set for Nautilus ocean exploration research trip


Lemont High School mathematics teacher Julie Johnson (left) will work aboard the E/V Nautilus from July 16-29.

Lemont High School mathematics teacher Julie Johnson has been selected as a 2017 Science Communication Fellow and will sail aboard Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus during its 2017 expedition. Johnson will join the Corps of Exploration aboard E/V Nautilus from July 16-29 as it explores the Channel Islands off the coast of California.

“I am proud to represent my school and community at sea,” Johnson said. “I am very excited to work with the amazing group of educators and scientists who have been brought together through this opportunity.”

A total of 24 educators, 19 students and one artist were selected from a competitive pool of applicants by the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) to participate at sea during the 2017 Nautilus Exploration Program expedition. OET, a nonprofit founded by Dr. Robert Ballard in 2008, has made its mission to explore the ocean, seeking out new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, archaeology, physics and chemistry, while pushing the boundaries of STEAM education and technological innovation.

Those selected to participate hail from schools, universities, science centers, aquaria and non-profit organizations from the United States and Canada. They will join the Nautilus Corps of Exploration during sea-going expeditions in the Eastern Pacific Ocean; those expeditions began in May and will run through November.

As members of the Corps of Exploration, Johnson and her fellow educators and students not only will work alongside scientists and engineers, but also participate in live interactions with shore-based audiences via Nautilus Live, a 24-hour web portal that brings expeditions from the field to future explorers on shore at www.nautiluslive.org. Global audiences also can interact with the E/V Nautilus via Facebook or Instagram at NautilusLive, or on Twitter at @EVNautilus.

Johnson will take part in an expedition during which scientists will explore the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, which is located off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in California. Less than 50 percent of the sea floor within the Sanctuary’s boundaries has been mapped by high-resolution sonar, and the 2016 Nautilus expedition to the same region worked to cut this knowledge gap nearly in half. The 2017 expedition will continue this exploration by using a high-resolution mapping system to characterize the sea floor in these unmapped areas. Following mapping operations, the Nautilus team will use remote operated vehicles (ROVs) to conduct visual surveys, collect high-definition video imagery, and collect biological and geological samples.

OET promotes STEAM education around the world using the excitement of exploration and innovation to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. The 2017 Science Communication Fellowship charges the chosen educators with the responsibility of engaging students and the public in the wonders of ocean exploration as they share discoveries from the 2017 mission and detail aspects of daily life aboard a working exploration vessel. Johnson and her colleagues participated in four days of intensive training at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography.

An important aspect of the program is for Science Communication Fellows to bring the expedition and excitement of ocean exploration back to their home communities after they have returned from sea by incorporating their experience into classroom lesson plans and community presentation events, as well as through informal educational opportunities. Johnson noted, “While aboard the vessel, my main focus will be to make connections between high school mathematics and ocean exploration. I look forward to bringing these connections back to my integrated classroom and colleagues.”

Major expedition and education sponsors in 2017 include the NOAA Office of Exploration & Research, the Office of Naval Research, Ocean Networks Canada, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, the University of Rhode Island, CITGO, AltaSea, KVH and additional private donors.

Johnson joined Lemont High School’s faculty in 2010. A 2009 graduate of Lewis University, she resides in Minooka and graduated from Minooka High School.
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