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All hands on deck for NNPS-TV's Crittenden-NOAA video

video recording oyster measuring
NNPS-TV Producer Nik Long records Ms. Carmean and her students in the lab at Crittenden Middle School.

It was a project that required all hands on deck, and the NNPS-TV production team was in ship-shape form to show viewers the remarkable events happening at Crittenden Middle School.

Sixth-grade science teacher Amanda Carmean, who worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration over the summer, has been developing an interactive SOL-based curriculum for middle school students. At the heart of the endeavor is Carmean's fictitious cargo ship, the Betsy, which lies sunk off the coast of New Jersey. For the class, sixteen 6th- and 7th-grade students became underwater investigators, applying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and gaining hands-on research experience.

The NNPS-TV production team went everywhere the students went in order to capture this project as it unfolded. They ended up creating an "extended version" of their "News in a Minute" show: It came in at nearly seven minutes just to quickly highlight all the activities the students participated in. They easily could have produced a 30- or 60-minute show.

Here is a brief summary of the many aspects of the NOAA SOL Prep Class:

Under the guidance of Carmean and seventh-grade science teacher Rodney Culverhouse, the students assembled a research buoy to collect data about the ocean water and air at the site of the Betsy. They designed, built and operated underwater ROV's (remotely operated vehicles) to explore the shipwreck. They studied the marine wildlife that inhabits the wreckage: counting, measuring and monitoring baby oysters, called "spat," in the classroom. They went on a field trip on the Chesapeake Bay aboard one of NOAA's state-of-the-art research vessels, where they were able to use the on-board lab. They learned to snorkel at the Midtown Aquatics Center and operated one of NOAA’s advanced underwater ROV’s. And they visited The Mariners' Museum's USS Monitor wet lab, which houses and preserves the Monitor's gun turret, steam engine, and other recovered artifacts, and which is now closed due to budget woes.

With this multi-faceted project, the NNPS-TV team had to divide and conquer, and involve more than the usual one videographer. Two interns from Christopher Newport University also were added to the mix.

NNPS-TV Producer Nik Long handled the bulk of the shoots, covering the ROV testing in Crittenden's portable pool and the snorkel training at the Midtown Aquatics Center pool. The latter meant getting in the water and swimming with the GoPro camera to get underwater shots of the ROV's and the students snorkeling. Long even used attachments that allowed him to secure the GoPro camera to some of the ROV’s for a different view.

Long was on board for an excursion on the NOAA research vessel, too, during which the research buoy was placed in the water. The day trip was from a marina in Hampton to the Chesapeake Bay and the mouth of the James River, past the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel. Long was able to attach the GoPro camera to the buoy as it was placed in the water for the weekend. (The camera was removed before setting the buoy adrift.)

For his last shoot, Long accompanied the class on its tour of The Mariners' Museum, where he and Culverhouse were allowed to climb to the top of 90,000-gallon treatment tank holding the USS Monitor’s 120-ton revolving gun turret. Long was able to get some unique footage from this vantage point.

Video Production Technician Aaron Moore captured footage of the students in the classroom collecting data about their "spat." They have over two thousand baby oysters, procured from Oyster Reef Keepers, which they examine, measure and weigh each month. Moore also got shots of the children constructing the research buoy from PVC piping and other materials.

CNU interns Kacie Melton and Carolina Hurley accompanied Long on some of the shoots. Melton shot footage with both the regular video camera and the GoPro when the sixth-grade team was building and testing its ROV’s in the portable pool at Crittenden. Hurley gathered footage of the sixth-graders counting oysters and building the buoy.

In some cases, Station Manager Jim Anklam and Web Producer Beth Scott tagged along in order to get still photos of the class and the production team at work behind the scenes.

Back at the station, Long wrote the script and Moore completed the editing. There was no way to trim it to the couple-minute norm for "News in a Minute," so the "extended version" was created.

And rightfully so, due to the terrific amount of effort and energy that went into Crittenden's "Teaching STEM Through NOAA" SOL Prep Class. The teachers and outside partners teamed up to provide a rewarding hands-on learning experience for some lucky 6th- and 7th-graders. And the NNPS-TV production team created a first-rate TV show so viewers could see these maritime researchers in action.

NOAA SOL Prep Class:

counting oysters

recording plans

preparing parts for buoy   intern footage
assembling buoy   buoy
filming recording oyster size   discussing plans
spat   ROV
ROV underwater   artifacts
Monitor   sitting by pool
ROV controller   snorkeling in pool
standing on boat   dropping buoy into water