January 16, 2017
By Jena Kline
The technology on board R/V Falkor is beyond what I ever imagined it could be. From one of the most remote places on the planet, we are able to collect tens of millions of data points to help us characterize the ocean floor, process the data, and add create three dimensional visualizations in mere days. The crew is magnificent at keeping scientific equipment and shipboard operations running smoothly and efficiently trouble-shooting any problems that do arise. All the while, we are able to stay connected with family, friends, and classrooms back on land.
Over the past five days of mapping near Johnston Atoll, scientists have been getting a detailed look at the depths of the ocean floor. All the while, students and teachers on shore have been given a glimpse into life and work on board R/V Falkor. With over twenty ship-to-shore calls during the cruise, we will have connected with students from Martha’s Vineyard, Hawaii, Baltimore, South Carolina, Guam, and the Dominican Republic. Sometimes setting up for the calls and worrying about whether the connection, video, and audio will cooperate is stressful for all involved (mostly out outreach specialist, Monika), but as soon as we hear the excitement of the students on the other end of the line, the stress fades away and pure joy ensues.
Passions and Perspectives
It was so much fun to see each storyteller on board share their passion for the ocean with students in different ways. Brock Sr. is obviously a life long learner who jumps in whole-heartedly to any task. His love of navigation and all things operations-related comes through when he speaks to his maritime sciences classes. Andrew’s presentation for his alma mater was thoughtful and thorough. Obviously very excited to share is knowledge and experiences on board, his calm and approachable demeanor encouraged questions. Brock Jr. has a playful energy and thought to document everything the audience might like to see; from the hula girl figurine in the bridge to testing fire extinguishers on the aft deck. He asked concise questions with reporter-like ease when chatting with scientists to get the whole scoop for the kids.
Lucy’s positivity and bubbly personality draws students in, not only to her cartoon creations, but also to the science she is portraying with them. She is a talented performer who engages the audience from start to finish with colorful stories of life at sea. Monika switched roles from a behind the scenes photo journalist to an animated and engaging presenter during a connection with the Mariposa Foundation, an 11th Hour Racing grantee focused on social and environmental change. By telling her life story and encouraging her amigas to tell theirs, Monika got some giggles out of the young audience while empowering them with words of wisdom.
Piquing Interest and Promoting Involvement
Through participating in some of the calls – and being an audience member for others – these connections have been a highlight of my time on board. As participants ask questions about whether the multibeam affects marine mammals and what kind of schooling is needed to be just like Colleen, it is clear that the public is curious about and excited to be a part of what happens on board. I know we have touched young hearts and minds back on land. As each of us go back to our respective communities, we will continue to share our experiences from Falkor and promote the understanding and mindfulness the ship stands for.