U.S. Department of Commerce News - NOAA

Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani, NOAA, (301) 713-3431, ext. 220



Kirk Beckendorf, an eighth grade science teacher at Obsidian Middle School in Redmond, Oregon was selected to be a NOAA Teacher in the Field, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) program that gives educators an opportunity to work side-by-side with NOAA scientists in the field, sometimes including research aboard NOAA ships or aircraft. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Beckendorf will be one of two teachers working as educators and researchers during the New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS) from July 1-Aug. 14. To prepare for the mission, he is attending a NEAQS science meeting in Orlando, Florida this week - April 27-29. On July 5, he will board the NOAA oceanographic research ship Ronald H. Brown in Portsmouth, N.H., from which he will send streaming videos, answer e-mail messages, write daily logs and take photographs. After the research cruise, Beckendorf will also participate in research at the Field Operations Center in Portsmouth and may also fly onboard a NOAA P-3 aircraft.

NEAQS will examine the effects of air pollution on regional air quality, the interaction of gases, aerosols and cloud processing with radiation fields (i.e., climate effects), and the long-range transport and transformation of pollutants both into the New England region and out to the north Atlantic Ocean to Europe.

Beckendorf was selected from a field of 50 highly qualified applicants to participate because of his background in atmospheric science, his adventurous nature, and-most important-his ability to communicate complicated science in an exciting way to his students. Teacher in the Field is an extension of NOAA's 13-year-old Teacher at Sea program, where teachers go aboard NOAA oceanographic, fisheries, and hydrographic survey ships to get hands-on research experience with NOAA scientists.

"Kirk's involvement in the NOAA Teacher in the Field program will enhance our school curriculum and meet the needs of our students and science staff," said Janelle Beers, principal, Obsidian Middle School. "As a leader in our science department, teaching both core and elective classes, Kirk is skilled at translating personal experiences into classroom experiences, which enrich students' skills and ability in science."

Beckendorf said that "I will use my own increased knowledge from my experiences to teach my students about the current use of the sciences in the real world. I will also be able to show students that learning does not end with school. Scientists, many others and myself are always seeking to learn new things; learning is fun. I also will be able to show them some of the ways in which others seek out new knowledge."

"The NOAA Teacher at Sea program has provided teachers a wonderful opportunity to improve their research skills by working closely with NOAA scientists," said Rear Admiral Nicholas A. Prahl, deputy director of the NOAA Corps and NOAA Marine and Aviation Operation, which administers the program. NOAA Corps officers serve as ship captains and aircraft commanders. "We want to build on this success by also making teachers a part of the scientific teams in the field and aboard NOAA research platforms that collect much of the data NOAA needs to carry out its mission."

Beckendorf is being sponsored by a partnership between the NOAA Teacher at Sea program and the NOAA Office of Global Programs.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.

On the Web: NOAA | NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations | Teacher at Sea - NEAQS 2004 | NOAA Office of Global Programs