Experiencing Ocean Science and Discovery Virtually
For the next 7 years, the University of Washington (UW) and the National Science Foundation's Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) will collaboratively support an annual multi-week cruise aboard the Research Vessel Thomas G. Thompson. These VISIONS cruises will include scientific and maintenance operations related to the high-power and high-bandwidth underwater cabled network, the OOI Regional Scale Nodes (RSN). Each year a cadre of undergraduate students will be onboard, enrolled in the UW oceanography course Seagoing Research and Discovery. Students will participate in the cruises as scientists and have responsibilities for daily scientific operations in addition to conducting individual and collaborative research projects. This complete immersion is a powerful tool for educating students in ocean science.
Although the number of onboard students during a VISIONS cruise is limited, exciting opportunities exist to reach hundreds to thousands of students through telepresence, using both live and taped broadcasts from the ship via the OOI RSN Interactive Oceans website (interactiveoceans.washington.edu). The VAST Program will also be used to reach K-12 students and teachers as well as the public, thereby creating geographically broad and potentially diverse audiences of learners.
The first VAST class was successfully piloted during the VISIONS '11 cruise on August 25, 2011 with Dr. Leslie Sautter's marine geology class at the College of Charleston.