Kelly Moore shows students a lobster on a virtual tour thatʼs streamed to classrooms.    

National Park Service

Dive Ranger

Kelly Moore works in an underwater national park

Jim McMahon

Kelly Moore’s most memorable day at work was when a baby gray whale swam right past her. The park ranger was diving in California’s underwater kelp forests when she saw the 30-foot mammal. “I think my heart pumped right out of my chest,” she says. “Being in a kelp forest is like being nowhere else on the planet.”

Moore—a marine biologist, park ranger, and scuba diver—works at Channel Islands National Park. The park is a cluster of five islands off the coast of Southern California. There, she hosts school field trips and monitors the health of native plants and animals. She does it all while underwater. 

Kelly Moore’s most memorable day at work was when she saw a baby gray whale. It swam right past her. The park ranger was diving in California’s underwater kelp forests. Then she saw the 30-foot mammal. “I think my heart pumped right out of my chest,” she says. “Being in a kelp forest is like being nowhere else on the planet.”

Moore is a marine biologist, park ranger, and scuba diver. She works at Channel Islands National Park. The park is a cluster of five islands. They are off the coast of Southern California. There, Moore hosts school field trips. She also monitors the health of native plants and animals. She does it all while underwater. 

Every spring, Moore and a team of scientists collect data on the ecosystem surrounding the islands. They spend a week on a boat, diving multiple times a day. The scientists count the animals they see and note how much kelp is growing. Using waterproof paper, they write down their observations. They use this data to compare the health of the ecosystem over time.

Every spring, Moore and a team of scientists collect data. They focus on the ecosystem surrounding the islands. They spend a week on a boat. They dive multiple times a day. The scientists count the animals they see. They note how much kelp is growing. Using waterproof paper, they write down their observations. They use this data to compare the health of the ecosystem over time.

National Park Service

Moore has spent more than 12 years studying the ecosystem of the Channel Islands. During that time, she’s noticed many changes in the kelp forests. In some areas, there are more fish than in past years. That’s because many areas of the park are protected as marine reserves, where no fishing is allowed.

Moore wants to make sure that everyone, especially students, has a chance to see the kelp forests like she does. So Moore hosts virtual field trips. Wearing her scuba gear and a microphone, she swims underwater and answers students’ questions in real time. Another diver records her with a waterproof video camera. The video can be transmitted live into classrooms. 

“So much of the ocean is unexplored,” she says. “My work is contributing to a better understanding of our ocean environment.”

Moore has spent more than 12 years studying the ecosystem of the Channel Islands. She’s noticed many changes in the kelp forests during that time. In some areas, there are more fish than in past years. That’s because many areas of the park are protected as marine reserves. This means no fishing is allowed.

Moore wants to make sure that everyone, especially students, has a chance to see the kelp forests like she does. So Moore hosts virtual field trips. She wears her scuba gear and a microphone. Then she swims underwater and answers questions from students in real time. Another diver records her with a waterproof video camera. The video can be transmitted live into classrooms.

“So much of the ocean is unexplored,” she says. “My work is contributing to a better understanding of our ocean environment.”

1. Divide students into 6 groups. Each group will get 1 lettuce leaf or 1 kale leaf.

2. Poke 2 holes on either side of the cup, near the top. Thread one end of the string through the holes. Thread the other end of the string through the paper clip. Tie the ends of the string together.

3. Assign a student to hold the leaf so the tip is facing down. (Make sure to hold it still!)

4. Use a paper clip to poke a hole about an inch from the top of the lettuce leaf. Put one prong of the paper clip through the hole so the paper clip and cup hang down from the leaf.

5. Add pennies to the cup one at a time. Keep adding them until your leaf rips and the cup drops.

6. Weigh the cup with the pennies inside. Then weigh the empty cup. Record each weight in grams.

1. Divide students into 6 groups. Each group will get 1 lettuce leaf or 1 kale leaf.

2. Poke 2 holes on either side of the cup, near the top. Thread one end of the string through the holes. Thread the other end of the string through the paper clip. Tie the ends of the string together.

3. Assign a student to hold the leaf so the tip is facing down. (Make sure to hold it still!)

4. Use a paper clip to poke a hole about an inch from the top of the lettuce leaf. Put one prong of the paper clip through the hole so the paper clip and cup hang down from the leaf.

5. Add pennies to the cup one at a time. Keep adding them until your leaf rips and the cup drops.

6. Weigh the cup with the pennies inside. Then weigh the empty cup. Record each weight in grams.

Make a class chart to compare the data on the lettuce and kale leaf trials for each group. Include the number of pennies used for each leaf and their weight. To find the weight of the pennies, subtract the weight of the cup from the weight of the cup with the pennies in it.  

Make a class chart to compare the data on the lettuce and kale leaf trials for each group. Include the number of pennies used for each leaf and their weight. To find the weight of the pennies, subtract the weight of the cup from the weight of the cup with the pennies in it.  

1. What do you notice about the number of pennies required to rip the lettuce leaves compared with the number required to rip the kale leaves? Compare your results with the rest of the class.

2. Sea kelp is a very strong substance. Which type of leaf do you think is more like sea kelp? Explain your reasoning.

1. What do you notice about the number of pennies required to rip the lettuce leaves compared with the number required to rip the kale leaves? Compare your results with the rest of the class.

2. Sea kelp is a very strong substance. Which type of leaf do you think is more like sea kelp? Explain your reasoning.

Back to top
Read Aloud