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Dive and Discover Web Site Puts Classrooms on the Frontier of Ocean Exploration

March 26, 2001

(Woods Hole, MA–3/26/01)—The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) announces the launch on March 27 of an Internet expedition in the central Indian Ocean called Dive and Discover( By following the daily activities and progress of the scientific mission, students and teachers in 22 states and Guam will be among the first to know of scientists’ discoveries at the seafloor in one of Earth’s most remote regions.

Dive and Discover was created by scientists, Web designers, and artists at WHOI, the world’s largest independent oceanographic research organization, and is co-funded by the National Science Foundation. The site gives teachers and their students an inside look at the sights, sounds, and action of scientific research—nearly as it happens—with daily updates, interviews, slide shows, and videos, and through direct e-mail correspondence with shipboard scientists.

“This Web site gives teachers a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate scientific concepts in the classroom,” says Dan Fornari, a WHOI geologist, and co-creator of Dive and Discover. “It provides an exciting daily window through which students can see science in action during one of oceanography’s most exciting periods.”

The Web site’s “info modules” give teachers in-depth, interactive teaching aids on subjects such as hydrothermal vent biology, vent chemistry, Earth history, plate tectonics, and history of oceanography. Free “educators companions,” developed and distributed in partnership with COSI Toledo (Ohio’s Center Of Science and Industry in Toledo), enhance the Web site’s usefulness in the classroom. The companions explain the science and technology behind the cruise and provide classroom activities to help students create their own experiments.

The expedition, the first U.S. expedition looking for vents in the Indian Ocean, includes biologists, microbiologists, geneticists, chemists, and geologists from eight US universities and institutions. Led by Chief Scientist Cindy Van Dover of The College of William and Mary, the team will use the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason and other deep-diving, mapping and imaging vehicles to explore hydrothermal vents along a seafloor mid-ocean ridge.

“Communities of animals around hydrothermal vents are different in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans,” says Susan Humphris, a WHOI geologist and co-creator of Dive and Discover. “What will they be like in the Indian Ocean? This cruise could answer many questions we have about the differences in vent communities in the world’s oceans and has the potential to make many discoveries.”