In 1973 I found a field trip experience for my students provided by Pacific Marine Research, a hands-on day learning about Puget Sound through the science of oceanography. PMR became an annual event. Robbie Martin eventually became the President of PMR and my partner in crime. I helped develop the curriculum for the program. Little did I know that this would change my life.
In 1985 I was selected to represent Washington in the NASA Teacher in Space Project. The selection conference, held in Wash. DC was a week of orientation sessions, testing, and interviews to select the candidate who would be the teacher to fly aboard Challenger. Not being selected was hard to deal with. I returned home and immersed myself in teaching and PMR.
The turning point in my life happened on November 8, 1985. At the same time, testing a new underwater video system for PMR. At lunch, an idea began to take form. Out came the napkin and pen. The idea: do a live, interactive TV special taking students across the country on a PMR underwater adventure. Project Undersea Uplink was born thanks to NASA's inspiration, PMR magic, and Robbie's amazing leadership.
The next challenge- was how to pay for the show... The cost of the one-hour program is $50,000. Where were we going to raise that kind of money? The answer came to me late one night at Robbie's place over dinner.
I was looking forward to seeing Halley's Comet's return but soon discovered it would be impossible because of the weather and location. From Seattle, we were just too far north to see it. Could I fly my CH-47 helicopter high enough to get a look? Twelve thousand five hundred feet, the max altitude without oxygen, wouldn't work. The answer: a jet flight that could travel far enough south and high enough, 37,000 feet, would work! A call to Alaska Airlines told us the bad news. The cost for the 4 1/2 hour flight- $14,500! My brainstorm- Get my school district to offer a jet flight to see Halley's as a Teacher In-Service Day, for which teachers were paid $225. Out came the napkin. If I could fill an Alaska MD-80 at $225 per seat, we'd make $30,375 on the flight. A KOMO TV news crew came along on the first flight, and their news story triggered huge interest in the comet. Robbie and I had not planned for more flights. We ended up doing six flights carrying 820 people to see the comet. After expenses, we cleared exactly $50,000 for producing and broadcasting Project Undersea Uplink.
Projects presented in chronological order