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Fifty gifted middle school students from mid-Atlantic states will attend "Explorations in Marine & Ocean Sciences," a one-day forum to be presented Saturday, Nov. 5, by the Old Dominion University Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

The forum is a Family Academic Program overseen by the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University. Each of the student participants, all of whom have qualified for the center's program because of high standardized test scores, will have at least one parent or other family member present for the day's workshops, lectures and demonstrations.

"We are honored to be the university chosen to present this Family Academic Program," said John R. Broderick, vice president for institutional advancement and admissions. "We are always pleased to host talented youth on our campus, and are especially delighted in this instance to showcase our highly regarded oceanography department." Broderick will deliver opening remarks on Saturday.

Elizabeth A. Smith, an ODU research assistant professor in oceanography and coordinator of the forum, agreed. "This is a win-win situation for the middle school students and for ODU. They have the opportunity to learn about oceanography, and we can show some very intelligent youths and their parents just how strong our program is." She is affiliated with the university's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography.

Two plenary presentations by outside experts will begin and end the day. Christopher Nelson, representing the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, will deliver "The Science Behind Fighting Pollution in Chesapeake Bay." Susanne Grieve, assistant conservator at The Mariner's Museum in Newport News, will deliver "An Icon of Maritime Archaeology: The Recovery, Conservation and Exhibition of the U.S.S. Monitor."

For most of the day, students will have one agenda and their parents another. Student workshops will focus on topics such "All About Sharks" and "A Day in the Life of an Oceanographer," while parents will hear speakers on "Science in Film: Fact or Fiction," and "Ocean Opportunities: Preparing for a Career in Marine Science."

Also, students will have a chance to experiment with the Chesapeake Bay Interactive Modeling Project (CHIMP), which is a new computer model of the bay developed by ODU oceanographers and modeling and simulation engineers. By changing variables such as wind speed and river discharge, the model simulates changes in the bay that hold special significance for scientists and environmentalists.

ODU oceanography faculty and graduate students participating in the program together with Smith will include: Richard G. Whittecar, university professor; Gregory Cutter, professor; Victoria Hill, post-doctoral research associate; Olga Polyakov, research assistant; George Boneillo, graduate teaching assistant; Lynda S. Cutter, laboratory manager; Christopher Powell, marine electronics technician, and Amy Hansen, graduate teaching assistant.

Also participating are Terri M. Mathews, assistant dean of the ODU College of Sciences and Carol Hopper-Brill, marine educational specialist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary.

"We will have oceanography graduate student ambassadors working closely with the visiting students throughout the day," Smith said. "The ambassadors will be great role models for these middle-school students and should help given them a good idea of what oceanography is." Smith said that Amanda Renwick, the OEAS Department's outreach coordinator, helped with logistics for the forum and with recruiting graduate student volunteers.

The ambassadors will be Jenny Ambler, Stacey Beharry, Matt Botzler, Jasmine Cousins, Xinping Hu, Nick Nolasco, Dana Palladino, Andrea Rocha and Carrie Snyder.

This article was posted on: October 31, 2005

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