Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Institution Outreach
email this pageEmail to a Friend
Enlarge image
Jeff Seewald (black vest), an associate scientist in the Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry (MCG) department, describes his research and lab equipment to 25 middle and high school science teachers from around New England in November. Jeff spent the day with the group as part of a “Topics in Oceanography” workshop for educators jointly sponsored by Academic Programs, WHOI Information Office, and WHOI Sea Grant. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, WHOI Graphic Services)
Enlarge image
Jeff enlisted help from MCG Senior Scientist Meg Tivey, who spoke about the process of collecting and analyzing samples from hydrothermal vents. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, WHOI Graphic Services)
Related Links

» WHOI Online Expeditions

» Dive and Discover

» Oceanus Magazine

» New England Centers of Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (NE-COSEE)

The success of our mission depends on public support, through federally funded research projects and private donations. The Institution therefore employs a variety of channels to enhance the public’s awareness and knowledge of the oceans and the critical role of oceanographic research in understanding our planet.

The visiting public’s window into ocean research at the Institution is through the Information Office and Exhibit Center, which together serve more than 30,000 visitors each year and respond to more than 7,500 information requests. Program offerings include informational walking tours, interactive educational exhibits, programs for students and educators, and a “Science Made Public” lecture series, bringing scientists and engineers directly to the public for informal talks about their research. Operation of the Information Office and Exhibit Center relies on the assistance of a dedicated and talented pool of about 30 volunteers.

The Institution has a range of methods for introducing its research and engineering to those who cannot visit Woods Hole. In 2004, nearly 140,000 people viewed the Institution’s traveling museum exhibition, “Extreme Deep,” as it was installed first at ScienceCity in Kansas City, MO, and then at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT. At more than 5,000 square feet, the exhibit features a full-size replica of the Alvin personnel sphere, models of vehicles used to explore the ocean, and a life-size, 3-D replica of a seafloor hydrothermal vent community.

During a spring rehab of “Extreme Deep,” pieces of the exhibit were displayed at the exploration pavilion at Wired magazine’s NextFest in San Francisco. Twenty five thousand people attended the exposition, during which Executive Vice President and Director of Research Jim Luyten joined Wired editor Chris Anderson and NASA Space Architect Gary Martin on a panel entitled “The Future, Above and Below.”

Reaching a still larger audience, WHOI scientists are bringing the public closer to the extreme environments they work in through the Internet, with five online expeditions in 2004 chronicling life and work at sea. The largest of these endeavors is Dive and Discover, which, with its daily journals, interactive learning modules, and video and slideshows, attracted more than a half-million visitors in 2004. The expansion of Oceanus magazine onto the Web has helped to deepen the public understanding of ocean science, with annual visits to the site exceeding 120,000. In addition, the Institution’s public Web site saw 3.25 million visits in 2004.

Public outreach at WHOI has also included work directed toward the K-12 audience. While the Institution’s educational focus is on the university level and higher, efforts are made to reach out to teachers and their students through partnerships like the Woods Hole Science and Technology Education Partnership (see Academic Programs section) and individual efforts. WHOI researchers regularly speak to school groups, visit classrooms, give lab tours, and make presentations at museums and conferences. Our staff has participated as judges, mentors, and advisors in the National Ocean Science Bowl, as well as in local science fairs and WHOI-sponsored workshops for educators.

In addition, WHOI, with the University of Massachusetts and the New England Aquarium, forms the core of the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence–New England (COSEE–NE), a five-year project funded by the National Science Foundation to encourage collaboration among researchers, educators, and the public. COSEE–NE programs in 2004 included workshops to train investigators in giving effective presentations to K-12 students, the creation of a guide for engaging scientists and educators in education and outreach, and a summer education institute fostering researcher-teacher collaboration.

With tightening federal budgets, the importance of cultivating a public educated about the oceans and the value of research and engineering at WHOI has never been greater.

—Stephanie Murphy (samurphy@whoi.edu)
Manager of Internal Communications

Copyright ©2005 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, All Rights Reserved.

Mail: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 266 Woods Hole Road, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.
E-Contact: info@whoi.edu; press relations: media@whoi.edu, tel. (508) 457-2000

Home | Site Map | Contact