April 24, 2022

Voicemails from the JR – what would we say?

Posted by Laura Guertin

To access Voicemails from the JR, visit: https://bit.ly/EXP390voicemails 


As an Onboard Outreach Officer on Expedition 390 for JOIDES Resolution, I’m challenged with finding ways to help others relate to not just our science, but to the scientists. More and more attention and effort is being paid to helping students see themselves in the role of a scientist, and scientists are trying to find ways to “humanize” who we are to make our science identities accessible (see example postings from Nature and UCS). During, every ship-to-shore broadcast I do with classrooms, I make sure students hear from and see scientists working on describing cores, identifying nannofossils through microscopes, etc. But to gain more insight into the backgrounds and personalities of the scientists on board, I use Google Earth as a tool to engage.

I previously blogged about Tracking ocean expeditions while at sea with Google Earth. And I created a Google Earth interface that shows the locations of the Expedition 390 scientists on board the JR, where each placemark not only summarizes their professional accomplishments but also some information about their interests and hobbies. The other Google Earth project I’ve been building upon while at sea for these two months combines Google Earth and storytelling, a project I’ve titled Voicemails from the JR. (*note that we are not actually calling home and leaving voicemail messages – this is a “what if we called home and no one answered….”)

There are multiple components to this project. One is the use of audio and helping those that listen (especially students) develop a critical skill necessary for communication and information retention (see Should “listening” be one of the skills we teach students?). Another is the storytelling component accomplished through the narrative of the message left by the person recording (see an example, Student-generated geoscience voicemails for the future – or present). Along with the Google Earth interface providing geospatial data, these pieces combine to form a story where each date is its own chapter of the two-month expedition of the JR. The “chapter” is told in the voice of someone on board the ship, sharing something exciting they worked on in the laboratory, or a reaction to their first bite of JR lava cake, to a number of other components of living and working at sea that they would share with a family member, friend, or colleague.


screenshot of Google Earth

Screenshot of the browser-based Google Earth interface for the Voicemails from the JR project – https://bit.ly/EXP390voicemails

I have an almost daily record of voice recordings from shipboard participants. Each audio file is paired with an image relating to the narration, so that both can be combined to create a video file, since one can easily embed a YouTube video in Google Earth but not an audio-only file.

The topics scientists record about and who they record their voicemail for is wide-ranging – from their parents and grandparents, to their kids and co-workers. Some of the scientists on board are also recording in their first language, as that would be the language they would leave their voicemail for the intended person they phoned.

This project has not only been a fun way for me to document our expedition, but it also records the voices of ship participants and their actual feelings at the moment – the excitement, the frustration, the sadness.. all of it authentic and in their own voice. I hope educators and those interested in learning more about scientists at sea take the time to click through and listen to some of these audio clips, as the voicemails present a unique opportunity to learn more about life during a two-month expedition – and maybe consider doing something similar during their own future field expedition.


To access Voicemails from the JR, visit: https://bit.ly/EXP390voicemails