School Visit to Cape Town’s Sophumelela Secondary School Introduces Ocean Currents to Students

Thanks to the efforts of Juliet Hermes and Thomas Mtontsi of the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) Drs. Meghan Cronin (NOAA) and I visited Mr. Ndemane’s science class at Sophumelela Secondary School in the township of Phillipi on the Cape Flats outside of Cape Town, South Africa this past October 2012.

During the presentation we introduced ocean currents to the learners, in particular the Agulhas Current, and discussed their impact on sea surface temperature (SST) and climate. I annotated ocean currents on blow-up globes to donate to the students as fun learning tools.

The high school students were clearly engaged and one learner stood up and thanked us for meeting with them and encouraging them to be scientists. Another learner from the SAEON program came up afterwards to ask for advice on a science fair project on climate change.

The class is involved in the NOAA Adopt A Drifter program (ADP), whereby three pairs of drifters were deployed in the Agulhas Current. Data from these drifters contribute to the NOAA Global Drifter Program (GDP), a component of the Global Ocean Observing System, and can be viewed at

I hope to see these learners again next February, when they have been invited to visit the R/V Knorr while she is in Cape Town, on the way to the final scientific cruise of the Agulhas Current Time-series experiment.

IMG_9044Lisa Beal, Ph.D. is an associate professor of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science and Principal Investigator of the Agulhas Current Time-series experiment