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A second-grade class that conducted a high-tech science project in cooperation with Old Dominion University oceanographer Eileen Hofmann has won a national 2008 Catholic Schools for Tomorrow Award from Today's Catholic Teacher Magazine.

Teacher Katie Barbour's class at Christ The King School in Norfolk took water samples from the Lafayette River and Lake Whitehurst and analyzed them using microscopes and other instruments. Shells and organisms were catalogued and water quality was tested during the project, which included several fieldwork, photography and record-keeping exercises.

The students produced video reports about their research and also wrote and produced a mock television news show, "CTK Science Live," that can be seen at www.ctkparish.org.

The award, one of 12 nationally given by the teacher magazine, is in a category titled "Innovative Projects Facilitated by Technology."

Hofmann, a professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences who works with ODU's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography (CCPO), said the project got its start because a program specialist with CCPO, Julie Morgan, has a child at Christ The King School.

"This school is very interested in hands-on learning, and particularly with the sciences," Hofmann said. "The teacher wanted to know if we could help them do a project with salt marsh ecology, and it just happens that we have a gorgeous marsh nearby." The students also were invited to take freshwater samples from Lake Whitehurst, courtesy of the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

CCPO has a history of outreach to area schools, much of it fostered by Hofmann and the center's director, John Klinck. Another researcher associated with CCPO, Elizabeth Smith, is a coordinator of the annual Blue Crab Bowl, a high school marine science quiz competition, which will be Feb. 22-23 at ODU's Webb Center. University oceanographers also are advising area middle school students who are submitting projects to the Tidewater Science Fair, which will be held March 8 on the ODU campus.

This article was posted on: February 8, 2008

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