EAMNet scientists win top prizes in lesson writing competition

Two EAMNet scientists have won the top two competition prizes in the ESA LearnEO! Lesson writing competition.  The first prize went to Marie-Fanny Racault and Dionysios Raitsos from Plymouth Marine Laboratory for their less on “Monitoring phytoplankton seasonality: phenology indices and their importance for coral reef biology”. 

The jury described the lesson as “very well prepared with excellent background information… both informative and interesting.  The two authors are clearly experts in the field and their enthusiasm for the subject comes over… a very nice lesson.”

The second prize was awarded to Hayley Evers-King and Marie Smith from the University of Cape Town for their lesson on “Detection of Harmful Algal Blooms in Coastal Waters: Examples of using ocean colour radiometry from the southern Benguela upwelling system.”

This was a “This is a great lesson with some nice imagery and quite ambitious exercises. Probably more advanced than others in scope. As a result the lesson takes a fair amount of time but the results are well worth the effort.”

Author of the winning entry, Marie-Fanny Racault, commented “I am delighted to have won the prize for the lesson with my colleague Dionysios. Developing a lesson in Bilko about phytoplankton seasonality using satellite ocean-colour data was very enthralling. By working with students from developing countries and discussing these issues with members of the public, I realized that there is a great demand and enthusiasm to study phytoplankton and to understand why it is relevant for society. I decided to prepare the lesson because I really wanted to make satellite ocean-colour science accessible to them.

The lesson is based on state-of-the-art ocean colour data from the European Space Agency ESA. In the lesson, students learn to visualize phytoplankton concentration on a map, to make a little animation to see how phytoplankton concentrations are changing from one season to the next. They find out how to calculate and map timing of phytoplankton growth, and understand why this information is key for fisheries management.

The regional setting for the lesson is particularly relevant. The Red Sea is a semi-enclosed basin where phytoplankton growth shows distinct seasonal patterns in the northern and southern parts, and in some places, two periods of phytoplankton growth can be pictured, one period of growth in Winter and one in Summer. Furthermore, the Red Sea hosts some of the most pristine coral reefs that have adapted to live in one of the most saline and warm seas in the world. These unique conditions make it an excellent laboratory for studying the effects of environmental warming on marine organisms.

The activity presented in the lesson can also be applied and extended to other oceanic regions in the world. I really hope that the lesson will be useful for educational and research purposes. I find it very inspiring to work with colleagues from developing countries and I wish to help to strengthen capacity building in the future, through further use and development of educational resources with their collaborations.”

Related Information:

The LearnEO website

The EAMNet project was partially funded by the European Commission Framework 7 Programme under Space Call SPA.2009.3.2.01 International Cooperation
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