11.8.15 Day 1: Andrea’s Great Adventure with Teacher Under the Sea – Andrea

Twenty-four years ago, I learned to scuba dive. I dived off and on for years and fell in love with diving while on a trip to the Philippines, came back home and completed my divemaster certification. I volunteer with Jr. Scientists in the Sea, an organization that works with students who get exposure to aquariums and experinece diving; I get to volunteer as a Team Lead with the Coral Restoration Foundation; I lead trips and assist in programming for the National Association of Black Scuba Divers Foundation (NABSF); and I serve on the Aqua Corp of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS).

By day, I’m director of admissions at Feynman School – which is a school for gifted and advanced learners – the curriculum is STEM based and quite flexible in that we meet our students where they are academically. I plan to share my passion of diving and saving our oceans with our students. How fortuitous I received an email from a friend who told me about the Teacher Under the Sea Program with Florida Internaional University.

On September 22, 2015, I learned I had been accepted to the Teacher Under the Sea Program. What a blessing! I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t think I would be chosen. Five educators were selected. We met virtually through video conferencing each Friday to meet the program scientists and other staff, review the mission, get background information about the Medina Aquarius program and much more.

Fast forward to Saturday, November 7, 2015. We all made our way to Islamorada, FL were we met the amazing team in person. Afterwards, we each settled in to our house, went grocery shopping and got ready for today…

Our day began at 8 am for a briefing on what would happen for the day. Such dedicated and passionate people. I get to work and learn with these people!!! We learned in greater detail what our tasks will be while on land, diving and working in the Aquarius Lab. Our first order for the day was to complete a check out dive. Otto, Otter and Ivana took us out to Hens & Chicken Reef were we demonstrated skills such as mask clearing, regulator recovery, out of air/alternate air scenario, hover and swim around. We all passed with flying colors! The conditions were a bit challenging – 2-3 ft seas, visibility was about 5 ft if that, water temp was 82 degrees. For those of us from up North, it was another day to get wet! {Gotta love quarry diving :)}

We arrived back to shore base, debriefed about the morning and were briefed on tomorrow’s schedule. Tomorrow we will begin our Virtual Field Trips (VFT) and begin working/diving with the scientists. Each teacher will lead aVFT speaking with a school or class from around the world! The students we will encounter are as  young as 3 yr olds up to College Students. Details about VFT after I’ve had a chance to do one.

Just getting back from dinner and I am tired but in a great way. So excited for tomorrow, don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep!!!

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