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Teachers invited to register for Extreme 2004 dive

Craig Cary, a UD associate professor of marine biology and biochemistry and director of the Center for Marine Genomics, and Julie Robidart, a student from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography
4:25 p.m., July 16, 2004--The University of Delaware’s College of Marine Studies is inviting students from around the world to join its researchers for Extreme 2004: Exploring the Deep Frontier, a deep-sea expedition to hydrothermal vent sites nearly two miles below the surface on the Pacific Ocean floor.

The expedition, and a concurrent virtual voyage for middle and high school students, will be held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 20 under the leadership of Craig Cary, a UD associate professor of marine biology and biochemistry and director of the Center for Marine Genomics.

UD researchers will be aboard the research vessel Atlantis and will make use of the submersible explorer Alvin to study hydrothermal vent sites and the unusual creatures that inhabit them, including the Pompeii worm, the vent crab and various bacteria. These creatures live at the extreme, with very high temperatures close to the vents and very low temperatures in the seawater surrounding them.

“This year, we will focus on introducing students to the concepts of environmental biocomplexity and genomics,” Cary said. “We will be employing new scientific tools borrowed from the human genome project to investigate how these organisms survive such hostile conditions.”

Last year, more than 45,000 middle and high school students from nearly 600 schools in 49 states and four foreign countries participated in the dive through Internet and telephone connections. Students were able to follow the expedition on a UD-maintained web site and communicate with the researchers via e-mail and telephone calls placed directly to Alvin as it made its way two miles below the Pacific surface.

For Extreme 2004, teacher registration is now being accepted online at [www.ocean.udel.edu/expeditions/registration2004.asp]. The deadline is Aug. 31.

As of mid-July, more than 300 classes had registered for the program, according to Tracey Bryant, director of the UD Marine Public Education Office.

Participating teachers and students are provided a printed curriculum, a video documentary and evaluation materials, she said, and classes from 50 schools will be provided an opportunity to place a call to the Alvin.

The 2001 expedition marked the first time DNA sequencing had been accomplished at sea, and, during the 2002 expedition, a middle school teacher joined scientists and crew aboard the Alvin to explore the ocean depths.

Extreme 2004: Exploring the Deep Frontier is sponsored by the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies with primary funding from the National Science Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program and WHYY-TV, the Public Broadcasting System affiliate serving Wilmington and Philadelphia.

To learn more about this and other UD online expeditions, see [http://www.ocean.udel.edu/expeditions/index.html].

Article by Neil Thomas

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