Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stan Cutler's Research Experiences for Teachers, Summer 2012 - Part 1

Week 1 (June 11-15)

Hi, folks! My name is Stan Cutler and I am a high-school Physics teacher in Altamonte Springs (near Orlando), Florida. I am thrilled to have been selected as the inaugural RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) participant with the Deep-C Consortium. I am looking forward to spending six weeks in Tallahassee performing “real-world science and cutting-edge research!”

I started my program on Monday, June 11th, and reported to the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute in the basement of the Keen Building on the FSU campus. I was introduced to one of my mentors, Dr. Kevin Speer, an Oceanography Professor and the Director of GFDI. Dr. Speer discussed some of the many wave tank experiments that take place at the Institute, and I look forward to sharing many of these experiments as they occur. Dan Kuncicky, an engineer in the lab, has been busy (along with a number of graduate and undergrad students) planning a wave tank experiment simulating high-amplitude and low-amplitude waves that should soon be up and running.

Engineer Dan Kuncicky machining components for wave tank at the Florida State University Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute.
On Tuesday I met my other mentor, Dr. Nico Wienders, a Physical Oceanography Researcher. Physical Oceanography is one of the five primary research areas of the Deep-C Consortium (the others being Ecology, Geochemistry, Geomorphology and Habitat Classification, and Modeling), and one of the major focuses of their current research involves seasonal currents and topography of the De Soto Canyon in the northeastern Gulf. Dr. Wienders and Dr. Speer have extensive experience on research vessels, and participated in the May “cruise” that is mapping many under-researched areas of the Canyon. One of my main tasks is to learn how to use the MATLAB software to analyze the data from this cruise, and Nico has been extremely helpful in guiding me through this process!

The rest of my first week was spent researching, discussing, researching, discussing, and researching!! There is so much to learn….rogue waves, Taylor columns, rotational fluid dynamics, shipboard scientific instruments, continuity equations….now I know how my students must feel! I look forward to continuing this blog next week :-)

Undergraduate student Kevin Easton prepares for a tank experiment at the Florida State University Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute.

A wave tank experiment at the Florida State University Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute.
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Stan Cutler