Engaging teachers in Northern Gulf of Alaska research

Our marine education specialist, Marilyn Sigman, is developing K–12 education programs for the Northern Gulf of Alaska long-term ecological research site.


Photo by Anne-Lise Ducluzeau

The NGA-LTER, as it’s called, is a National Science Foundation–funded research area that runs from the mouth of the Copper River to Kodiak Island. Educational outreach to young students as well as undergraduate and graduate students is a critical element.

The Northern Gulf of Alaska is a highly productive, subarctic Pacific marine biome. The NGA-LTER builds on more than 40 years of oceanographic sampling along the Seward Line. (Download a PDF brochure of the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long Term Ecological Research project.)


Photo of Prince William Sound by Andrew McDonnell.

The Seward Line transect, across the Continental Shelf, is a long-term observation program that began in 1998 to better understand how this marine ecosystem responds to climate variability.

During the first year of the project, Sigman worked on developing an online component for the LTER Schoolyard Series. She created science curriculum materials that draw on the LTER’s data resources. For example, Sigman designed a resource for educators on the LTER website that includes links to relevant teaching materials, many of them developed by Alaska Sea Grant.

Woman smiling“Unlike beach field trips, it can be a challenge to get teachers and students excited about in the ecological interactions going on below the ocean surface, even though the Gulf of Alaska is close to everyone living along its shores,” said Sigman. “The educators who participate in the research will help us develop virtual field trips with videos, animations, and hands-on classroom activities along with data jams to engage students in analysis of the ecological data generated by the project.”