GCOOS-RA staff and partners helped students celebrate Earth Day 2015 throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Read more about two of these educational and fun events below.

Learning to Make Every Day Earth Day

Amidst end-of-year science fair projects and festivals, students at Bay Point Elementary School paused to reflect on the meaning of Earth Day. Following a field trip to the Pinellas County Solid Waste facility in St. Petersburg, FL, where students saw first-hand how the county’s solid waste is processed and managed, they returned to the classroom to learn behaviors that promote good environmental stewardship. GCOOS Outreach and Education lead, Dr. Chris Simoniello, guided students through activities that connect their actions and choices to issues such as marine debris, water quality, and animal health. Students then had the opportunity to decorate their own reusable tote bags, employing the techniques of gyotaku, the Japanese art of fish printing, to remind them to reduce, reuse and recycle on a daily basis. Simoniello has been working with the county via its Community Rating System, Program for Public Information Committee, to prepare the community for the launch of the city-wide recycling program scheduled for this summer.

Students at Ponchatrain Elementary School listen while ?? explains ROV's.

Stephan O’Brien from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of Marine Science and student chapter of the Marine Technology Society shows elementary school students underwater video from ROVs and AUVs.

Earth and Science Day at Pontchartrain Elementary School

850 Pre-K through Third Grade students at Pontchartrain Elementary School on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, LA celebrated Earth Day with an Earth and Science Day Festival on 24 April, 2015. Stephanie Watson, GCOOS-RA Communications Lead, organized the fun and educational event. Students visited booths and participated in presentations by many science organizations in Louisiana, including GCOOS-RA partners. Dr. Stephan Howden, the University of Southern Mississippi, demonstrated an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (a Slocum Seaglider) and a video showing its deployment. The University of Southern Mississippi’s Student Chapter of the Marine Technology Society (USM MTS) demonstrated Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and the underwater video footage that the ROVs can collect. USM MTS also set up three mini ROVs in a pool for students to operate on their own and view the video footage on a nearby screen. Meteorologists from NOAA National Weather Service’s National Data Buoy Center discussed their buoys and weather forecasting. Systems Engineers from NASA demonstrated cryogenics experiments and discussed engine testing at Stennis Space Center, MS. Throughout the many other exhibits, students learned about fish tagging and using microscopes and otoliths to predict fish ages, how to make nautical flags, tips for protecting fish and wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico region, how a 3D printer and robotics work, electricity and safety, how to reduce non-point source pollution, and much more!

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Dr. Stephan Howden, from the University of Southern Mississippi, talks to the student about the slocum glider. The students enjoyed the talk but seemed to be more interested in riding the glider.