OOI Team Gets Students Excited About Ocean Study at Science & Engineering Fair

The OOI Team engages students at a STEM Career Fair. (Photo Credit: Mike Crowley)

(Click to enlarge) The OOI Team engages students at a STEM Career Fair. (Photo Credit: Mike Crowley)

Members of the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) team had the opportunity to talk about the program and show off examples of equipment including an undersea glider to hundreds of school children and their families last month during a Science & Engineering Career Fair in Northern Virginia.

Over two days hundreds of visitors stopped by the OOI exhibit booth at a special career event sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (VA) and the National Science Foundation held at the Dulles Town Center in Virginia on Sept. 27-28. During the event, more than 100 scientists and engineers doing work across a spectrum of NSF programs conducted interactive demonstrations of the work they do with middle and high school students, their families and teachers.

The OOI’s “Connecting You to the Ocean” exhibit gave students the opportunity to learn how to collect data in real time from some of the oceans most unexplored and challenging depths. Visitors to the exhibit got to see one of the Rutgers undersea gliders up close. Not only where they able to touch the glider, but they also were able to view live data from gliders currently in the ocean.

The team set up a special experiment so the students could get their hands wet and learn about buoyancy and how the glider actually submerges and returns to the surface when on a mission.

Mike Crowley, a member of the OOI Education and Public Engagement team and Program Manager for the Rutgers Coastal Ocean Observation Lab, and Rutgers Coastal Observation Lab students Brandon Rogers and Jessica Castoro explained glider design and operation to visitors.

“This was a great opportunity for us to meet with these young students who were very interested in the glider and all that they can learn from the ocean,” Crowley said. “We value these opportunities because not only does it allow us to spread the good news about the program but we can help inspire these kids who are interested in taking their career in this direction. The OOI data will be available to these young students through their 30s and early 40s”

The OOI EPE team, led by Rutgers, is building a suite of software interfaces and web-based tools that will allow educators to bring the ocean into learning environments. Collectively, these tools will provide easy access for the development and use of educationally appropriate scientific data visualizations.  These tools will facilitate broader access to OOI data for undergraduate educators and free choice learners by translating OOI science themes into educational materials.

Visitors were very interested in the future of the OOI program and the cutting edge information about the ocean it will bring to anyone able to access the Internet.  Leslie Smith, Science Communicator with the OOI program, Oceanographer, and PhD graduate of the University of Rhode Island, noted that several teachers inquired about opportunities to integrate the OOI into their classrooms.

“With these exchanges, we see a growing enthusiasm about the OOI,” Smith said. “Students and teachers are eager to learn more about the ocean and incorporate the cutting edge data and information that will result from OOI into their lesson plans. Not only will the OOI enable a new approach to oceanographic research, but through the efforts of the EPE, the OOI will revolutionize the way students and the public can explore the ocean.”

The OOI Team participates in a number of public science & education events each year. Please visit the Events Section of the OOI Website to see past events and continue to visit our OOI Website for information on upcoming happenings.   Please continue to visit the OOI Website for updates and other program news and events.