Education and public outreach are important components of ORP’s mission to reverse humanity’s negative impact on the ocean. The value of the information gathered from our research expeditions is closely tied to our ability to increase public awareness of the issues we take on. ORP is dedicated to educating people, particularly the younger generations, about the primary causes of human-induced stress on the ocean and how human behavior can be modified to reverse this trend. Many students lose interest early on in their education, shying away from taking on academic and professional roles as adults. ORP sponsors several activities annually to empower and inform STEM students about the diverse nature of the challenges that marine scientists tackle today. As an alternative educational platform we strive to achieve high levels of student attentiveness in all our activities.

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ORP’s educational activities have spanned the globe through interactive co-written blogs while exploring the concentration of marine debris in the North Pacific Gyre to observing the phenomena of Greenland’s glaciers shrinking away from the coastline. Students provided reflective input in the form of questions, artwork and poetry. When feasible, we accept student interns to act as land-based team members providing critical forecast details on marine weather and ice conditions to support the field team in meeting ORP’s scientific objectives.

Middle school students have been inspired by the visual depictions of ORP’s scientific exploration of the Arctic through post expedition Science on a Sphere presentations led by High School Interns and ORP expedition leaders. Science on a Sphere is a fun and interactive medium that draws students deeper into the diverse range of global observations of the  conditions in the marine environment. While abroad, ORP has conducted lectures at schools, provided shipboard tours and equipment demonstrations, all of which help increase awareness among youth as to the work that needs to be done.

In the future, ORP plans to develop new opportunities to take students outside the classroom to experience firsthand where and how our research expedition observations help address regional and worldwide issues. We believe these educational efforts are critical to informing younger generations about the impact of certain human activities on the ocean and the ways in which we can modify our behavior to minimize these negative effects and foster a thriving marine environment.

Intern Story

michelleMichelle Edwards is an up and coming marine scientist who is passionate about the conservation of our oceans.  She received a BS in Environmental Science from SUNY Brockport College in 2016. Since then she has worked with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center assisting with acoustic tagging of sharks and rays. She also has studied the movements of whale sharks in Honduras through photo-identification. Michelle is thankful to have had the opportunity to work with ORP on the citizen science project exploring methods for increasing acoustic telemetry data gathered from tagged fish. The tracking of marine animals in this manner provides information that is essential for both management and conservation of the marine environment. Michelle’s experience working on this project with ORP will be a central part of her upcoming presentation at the 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting, and it will undoubtedly be an important step forward in her career.

“This project let them see what scientists are doing in the real world.  They can connect what they are learning in school to the experiences they learned about from the ORP.  Students can observe science occurring and have a better understanding of how humans impact environments.”
Mellissa Angerson (MD STEM Teacher)