QUEST outreach program for elementary and middle school teachers
QUEST outreach program for elementary and middle school teachers
QUEST 2019 “Weather & Climate”: QUEST participants and L. Resplandy discuss observed changes in temperature and rainfall during extreme El Niño and La Niña events. (Photo by Martha Levitskiy).

The QUEST (Questioning Underlies Effective Science Teaching) program is a summer weeklong, hands-on program for New Jersey elementary and middle school teachers. In July 2019, the session on “Weather & Climate” introduced key climate factors such as air pressure, greenhouse effect, clouds and winds, and how these factors relate to weather and climate variability. In this session, Resplandy led a topic course on "El Niño Events and Climate Impacts" including hands-on activities to introduce the physical responses associated with El Niño events, its global impacts and proposed ideas that teachers in grades 3-8 can use in their classrooms.

Elementary public school Science Day
Illustrate oceanography concepts in elementary schools.
Elementary school science day: students designed and built “phytoplankton” that we test and see if they float too much, sink too fast or stay afloat just about right to get the light and food they need (Photo by Xinning Zhang).

I developed hands-on activities to illustrate oceanography concepts in elementary schools. This includes the famous “phytoplankton race” where students built phytoplankton out of plastic, metal, foam. This activity illustrates the importance of the biological pump in regulating atmospheric CO2. It also introduces the concept of buoyancy with an emphasis on the trade off phytoplankton must face to survive: float at the surface and get more light or sink to get more nutrients. Students built in groups of 3-4 the “best” phytoplankton they can come up with so that it will not sink too fast nor stay floating at the surface. Other activities include pH around us where they get to measure the pH of different substances (lemon, tap water, soap, sanitizer, sea water, sea water with added CO2 etc.). This activity introduces the concept of acidity and links it to atmospheric CO2 and ocean acidification.