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18 January, 2002


Maggie Amsler is a scientist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. She is studying the chemical ecology of marine plants and animals. She is looking to see how plants and animals defend themselves from being eaten by others.

In order to do this work, Maggie dives in the chilly waters of the Palmer Station region. When Maggie is checking her underwater experiments, she usually dives to a depth of 20 feet. When she is collecting plants and animals, however, she often has to go to a depth of 120 feet. She is underwater for an average of 25-30 minutes at a time. She always has a diving "buddy" with her. While they are in the water, there is a Zodiac above them, with two people in it. These people are the "dive tenders." At least one of them must be certified in special emergency training for divers.

As you would guess, the water is cold! Right now it is about 1 Celsius. So, Maggie wears a lot of layers of clothing to protect herself from the cold!

Maggie wanted to know just how much she weighs when she is wearing all her diving equipment. So, I took photos and kept records while she put on all the layers. Here's the math: how much weight gain was there between each step? Which step had the greatest weight gain? When Maggie is all dressed, how much weight has she added? What percentage is that of her original weight? What is 1 Celsius on the Fahrenheit scale?

1. Maggie, in her Capilene long underwear and polypro socks, weighs 113 pounds.

2. Maggie adds "dive underwear", which consists of a jumpsuit, jacket, and booties. These are lined with fleece and contain poly filling. The outer layer is water resistant. Now Maggie weighs 117 pounds.

3. Maggie adds the Viking dry suit. It is made out of vulcanized rubber and latex. Now Maggie weighs 128 pounds. (Step.3.Maggie)

4. Maggie adds ankle weights. These weights help her keep her feet beneath her as she swims underwater. Otherwise, the air in her dry suit might collect in her feet and allow them to float above her! Now Maggie weighs 133 pounds.

5. Maggie adds a weight belt. This belt allows her to remain beneath the surface of the water at the depth where she needs to work. Now Maggie weighs 168 pounds

6. Maggie adds a bonnet, which goes under the hood of the dry suit. She straps on the air tank, 2 regulators, the buoyancy compensator, and her compass/calculator. Now Maggie weighs 215 pounds!

7. Maggie adds mask, gloves, and fins. Now she weighs 220 pounds, and she is ready to go!

Maggie will go out in one of the Zodiacs to the site where she and her "dive buddy" will dive.

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