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Science teachers compete for ocean research cruise prize

Published: 2 April 2003

Southampton Oceanography Centre is inviting science and geography teachers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to compete for an all expenses paid fortnight aboard a marine research cruise to Portugal. The winning teachers will be asked to send back reports and video messages to classrooms across the country via an interactive website - the Classroom@Sea.

There are berths for two secondary or sixth form teachers on a cruise that will be studying massive underwater canyons just off the coast of Portugal early next year. The winners will be joining a team of international marine scientists investigating the geology and biology of the canyons.

Professor Phil Weaver, who will be leading the research, said: "We are looking for enthusiastic teachers who will be able to communicate a range of science in an interesting and stimulating way. They will be involved in the science work on board - such as helping us to take video and samples of the seafloor - and there will be time for them to carry out experiments of their own."

The 17 day cruise aboard the Royal Research Ship Discovery will be investigating canyons that have been carved away by sediment laden river waters flowing into the ocean. These canyons carry the sediment fed into the ocean from the Duero, Tagus and Sado rivers, eventually reaching the ocean floor some 5km deep. The scientists and teachers will be taking video footage of the seafloor with deep-towed cameras, sediment cores that give a record of deposition over time, and box cores which sample the sea bed surface and the marine life, including bacteria, that live there.

The Classroom@Sea project is part of a large EU-funded programme investigating how sediment particles are transported from river mouths, across the continental shelf down to the deep ocean. All travel, training and ship-board costs will be covered, in return the winners will be responsible for sending reports of the science carried out at sea. This material will be published on an interactive website available to schools across the country. Entrants will need proof of consent from their head of school to take part in the project. Closing date for entries is 16th May 2003.

Details of the competition and application forms can be found on the Southampton Oceanography Centre website at www.soc.soton.ac.uk

Notes for editors

The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £235 million.

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