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One of COSEE-TEK’s partners is the American School for the Deaf (ASD) in West Hartford, CT, a relationship that goes back over a decade to the NSF-funded Classroom of the Sea (COS) project. COS exposed deaf and hard of hearing students to ocean science and technology, while at the same time tackled the difficult challenge of communicating science, especially ocean science in American Sign Language. In April, 2013 teachers from ASD participated in a Teacher Technology Experience (TTE) that focused on acoustics and was led by Dr. Peter Scheifele (formerly a Co-PI on the COS project) who heads the FETCH~LAB at the University of Cincinnati. The TTE was a professional development opportunity that included building a simple hydrophone that COSEE-TEK had modified from a design by Kevin Hardy (UCSD); working with freely downloadable acoustic analysis software from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Raven Lite; and planning for the development of educational resources for use in the classroom.
The ASD collaboration continued in the fall, making the move into the classroom at ASD to have the teachers work with COSEE-TEK staff on a newly designed do-it-yourself (DIY) hydrophone based upon a design by Vivas & Lopez (2011). This design was simpler than the Hardy design, used a piezo-electric element potted with epoxy in a simple housing to record the sound. Students each built their own low cost hydrophone and were able to test them in a fish tank at ASD using the free Raven Lite software. The teachers are now finalizing lesson plans that will be presented to other Schools for the Deaf via webinars in the spring, 2014.
COSEE-TEK's mission is to innovate and adapt approaches to improve the quality, availability, and impact of ocean science education by linking science, technology, and engineering to catalyze learning and communication of STEM topics for teachers, students, scientists, and the public.