School Touring Reaches Opal Hamilton Students


By: Anna Heller SUT February 13, 2017
school touring at opal hamilton middle school
Andrew Haigh and Jon Wilson teach students at Opal Hamilton Middle School. Photo: Andrew Haigh
Cypress, TX- In January, the Society for Underwater Technology’s (SUT) School Touring Committee presented on the subjects of geology and underwater sonar to students at Opal Hamilton Middle School. 
Mr. Andrew Haigh, chair of SUT’s School Touring committee, led a group of volunteers as they made twenty presentations on “Seeing with Sound” to 513 8th grade students in one day and reached a similar amount of 6th grade students with their presentation “Geology Rocks,” one week later. 
The volunteer speakers for “Seeing with Sound” were Michael Martin (Cartography Manager with Gardline Surveys Inc.), Alan Foley (Ocean Scientist with Svitzer), and Jon Wilson (Senior Geologist and Ocean Scientist/independent consultant). 
The goal of the school touring is to enthuse students about the sciences and about the possibility of studying and working in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) related career field. When the students see professionals within the field, they can understand the possibilities of having a career in STEM and this is so encouraging for both teachers and students.  
8th grade science instructor, Michael DiBenedetto, was impressed with the impact the school touring made on his students. “I believe the school touring impacts our students positively. It may attract a few new people to a future in STEM and it definitely helps the ones already thinking of STEM to clarify their future career path. They were able to see what a STEM career might actually look like.” 
The “Seeing with Sound” presentation was a great introductory for the students to mapping the ocean using sonar. Because of the depth and inability to see deep under the ocean, sonar is used to help map the seafloor. 
“”Seeing with Sound” was very useful to our students. We were finishing plate tectonics and about to begin Topographic Maps, so the timing was perfect.” DiBenedetto said, “They (the school touring presenters) knew the subject matter inside out and were able to answer the students’ questions with ease. The fact that they enjoyed what they were doing was readily apparent. The students and I found their presentation informative and interesting.” 
Alan Foley presents to students at Opal Hamilton School
Alan Foley presents to students at Opal Hamilton Middle School. Photo: Andrew Haigh
The 6th grade students learned about geology, specific gems, erosion, and discussed different natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes that have to do with the earth’s geological formations. The students also got to see and hold a 15 million year old Megalodon fossil. The Megalodon is an extinct species of shark that was about three times the size of the present day Great White Shark.
Teachers of the 6th grade were in agreement that the school touring is making a positive impact on the students, specifically in showing the students the possibilities within the field of science. 
“My students really enjoyed the presentation. Many of them heard a presentation by Mr. Haigh when they were in 5th grade. Mr. Haigh does an excellent job of presenting the material on a level they can understand and they respond to him well.” Donna Sumner-O’Neill, a sixth grade science teacher, said, “I had several students come up to me the next day after the presentation and tell me they were interested in working in the field of geology. It makes a great impact to hear from someone in the field about career possibilities.” 
Another sixth grade teacher, Christine Pinell, felt the “Geology Rocks” presentation fit right in with the student’s current Earth Unit and said it was a great way to express the importance of science to the students.
“I think it is a positive motivational tool and exposes students to adults who have occupations in the STEM fields.” Pinell said, “I believe STEM is important for the future of our students, it is a part of their everyday life.” 
The Science Campus Content Instructional Specialist at Opal Hamilton Middle School, Nicole Domingues, could not be more pleased with the content of the school touring and the students reactions to professional scientists coming to speak with the classes. 
“Mr. Haigh and his team committed 2 whole days to come into the classroom and teach the students about Geology (6th grade) and Sonar (8th grade).  Students got to hear how the professionals used science in their careers, explore a sunken ship, and observe incredible mineral and rock samples.” Domingues concluded, “Although Mr. Haigh is the Geophysical Manager at Gardline Surveys Inc., any outsider would swear he is an expert teacher that is able to engage and captivate all students. We are very thankful to have Mr. Haigh as a member of our community and that he is so committed to the wellbeing of all CFISD students.”

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