Thousands of young aspiring scientists and oceanographers with their families and teachers got a hands-on lesson on how to measure ocean properties from members of the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) team during the 2014 USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., last month.
The USA Science & Engineering Festival was held April 26-27 at the Washington, D.C., Convention Center. A special VIP day for schools and students was held on April 25. More than 325,000 people attended the festival, according to the Festival website. The OOI participated in an overall Consortium for Ocean Leadership Exhibit at the festival.
Members of the OOI Team led visitors, ranging in all ages, through a hands-on demonstration of how a glider, a type of underwater robot, works and how it will be used by the OOI to collect ocean data. Participants got to play with a small model glider making it sink or float by drawing water into, or pushing it out of the glider. This is the same mechanism used by real gliders in the ocean. The demonstration provided participants with a glimpse of how data are collected by the OOI and what kinds of information and data will be available through the OOI.
This outreach event is one of many that have taken place across the OOI program as program scientists and engineers reach out to educators, students and the general public in various communities.
Leslie Smith, Science Communicator with the OOI program, Oceanographer, and PhD graduate of the University of Rhode Island, noted that several students and teachers inquired about opportunities to integrate the OOI into their classrooms and use OOI data in the future.
“The USA Science & Engineering Festival is an excellent forum for the OOI Team to meet students and discuss the opportunities to utilize the OOI as a resource as they enter their career. To a 10-year old, telling them that OOI data will be freely accessible over the internet until they are in their mid-thirties is amazing and incredibly motivating; that here is something for them, that they are meant to use and grow up with,” Smith said. “With each outreach exchange we see growing enthusiasm about the OOI and the field of ocean observing. We want to help inspire these young students and educate them on the revolutionary future for oceanographic research.”
The OOI Team participates in a number of public science & education events each year. Please visit the News & Events Section of the OOI Website to see past events. Visit the OOI Website for other program news and events.