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.
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.