Earth Day celebration

Since its inception, GCOOS has supported outreach and education activities aimed at increasing ocean literacy. That includes providing opportunities for youngsters to learn about ocean science.

In April, GCOOS and partners helped provide ocean science learning opportunities to nearly 800 Pre-K through third grade students from Pontchartrain Elementary School (on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana) during an Earth and Science Day Festival celebrating Earth Day 2017. Students visited booths and participated in interactive presentations by the University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) Department of Marine Science and the Student Chapter of the Marine Technology Society (MTS), NOAA, NASA and the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVO).

USM’s Dr. Stephan Howden demonstrated an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and showed a video of its deployment. USM MTS students demonstrated Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and showed underwater video footage that ROVs can collect. They also set up three mini ROVs in a pool for students to operate, which allowed them to view video footage on a nearby screen.

Earth Day celebrationMeteorologists from the National Data Buoy Center talked about their ocean buoys and how they help support weather forecasts, while NASA education experts led students through an inflatable planetarium and interactive stations on space exploration. NAVO engineers taught kids about circuitry and AUVs.

Throughout the day, students learned about coastal land loss, robotics, electricity and safety, X-ray technology, genetics, nutrition science, how to reduce non-point source pollution and much more. The event allowed students to see how science issues affect their lives in the Gulf of Mexico region and inspired them toward further science exploration.

Integrating events such as this with school year science curricula is an important step toward achieving Next Generation Science Standards, which were developed to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to be well-informed citizens, to be prepared for college and careers, and to understand and appreciate the sciences.

Photos courtsey of Pontchartrain Elementary School.