SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
December 14, 2016
Step Inside, It’s a Wild Ride
39° 21.6’ S x 178° 05.1’ E
Sailing North to Auckland under the four lowers and the fisherman
Clear, Force 3 Winds
Cruisin' on down Main Street, you’re relaxin', feelin' good. Next thing that you know you see an octopus in your neighborhood!
As the trip is winding down, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I would sum up this experience to my friends and family. Really, its a pretty familiar story: A small group of students in a non-conventional learning environment (focused on science) traveling to exotic locations in what often feels like a magical vessel. Yes, I am making a Magic School Bus reference. Honestly though, it is a very appropriate analogy. Anyone who knows anything about this stunning example of children’s television knows that it is always more fun to get on the same level as whatever you are learning about. On any given day at school, we might find ourselves face to face with giant salps. Or, when counting hundreds of tiny organisms under your microscope your delirium transports you to their tiny world and you feel yourself walking along the petrie dish patting a Limacina inflata on the shell. Making a star chart is much like traveling all the way to space to ask the stars their location on the celestial sphere (except unfortunately there is math).
If you want to get too deep into this (which I most certainly do) the metaphor extends into the wonderful nuances of each character in the story. 34 people is really not that many. As on the school bus, you quickly start to sense the quirks of your shipmates as keenly as though they were scripted episodically. Each character on our Magic School Ship brings something different. You’ve got your Dorthy Anne types, always citing their research and spending ridiculous amounts of free time in the lab. There’s always some seriously painful (Carlos style) punning going on. And, of course, we all have our days where we can’t help but think, “I should have stayed home today”.
Today I awoke in a daze. Exhausted, grumpy and generally channeling Arnold. I would have given anything to get back into my bed. At my old school, I would have never had to wake up and lift heavy stuff in the rain. However, we assembled ship’s company before sailing off the hook and I was reminded why I love this magic brigantine. Our various authority figures including our very own Ms. Frizzle (AKA Captain Pamala), burst forth from the chart house in full costume and summarily tried our chief engineer for high treason against King Neptune. In a showy display of nonsense he was found guilty of it being his birthday and was punished accordingly. When the whole production wound down I found myself thinking about how far away this ship has taken me from any classroom I have ever known and how much more it has allowed me to learn.
On this ship, we can shrink to the size of a pteropod, grow as tall as the height of the sun, and fly along at an incredible 8 knots. We make mistakes, get messy, and we sink our hands into the all things we want to learn about. Most importantly, we function as a team with every individual bringing their strengths and weaknesses to face each challenge. I am dearly missing everyone I love at home and I will be happy when we make landfall in Auckland at the end of the week, but I will never take for granted this opportunity to get as close to magic as you can get.
Step inside, its a wild ride