IODP Proceedings    Volume contents     Search


Education, outreach, and communication objectives

Expedition 336 sailed with one onboard education officer, but several of members of the science party also conducted education, outreach, and communications (EOC) activities while on board. The education officer was an elementary school teacher with a background in marine biology, as well as a marine science web designer. Four shipboard microbiologists also initiated education and outreach activities.

The primary goals of the Expedition 336 EOC effort were to (1) connect shipboard scientific, technical, and engineering personnel with nonspecialists on shore; (2) develop K–12 curricula related to the expedition’s scientific objectives and general science, technology, engineering, and math topics; (3) create and distribute multimedia materials (written, photographic, and video) related to expedition objectives and accomplishments; (4) help Expedition 336 scientific personnel learn to communicate the excitement of their research and other activities to an audience of nonscientists; and (5) teach the onboard education officer about the scientific foundations of the mission and the technical tasks involved in deep-sea scientific drilling in order to create a solid understanding of the scientific process that can then be communicated through her own formal and informal education efforts.

Education, outreach, and communication summary

The shipboard EOC team advanced the scientific goals of the expedition and of IODP by communicating the importance of scientific ocean drilling to a broad external audience and engendering understanding and enthusiasm for scientific exploration, ocean drilling, and subseafloor observatories. This was accomplished in partnership with the science party. Toward this objective, the team worked with custom websites, blogs, up-to-the-minute social media, and live video interactions with schools and museums.

More than 43 blog posts in English, Spanish, and French were added to (a United States Implementing Organization website oriented toward a nonscientific audience) by seven authors, including the onboard education officer, scientists, engineers, and technical staff. Subjects included shipboard life, operations and deep-sea drilling, engineering and CORK observatories, microbiology, and math. Blog posts were viewed an average of 288 times each. In addition, four outside blogs/​websites were published by onboard scientists. Katrina Edwards wrote about our expedition on the Expeditions blog at Scientific American (​expeditions/); this blog was also published on the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) website (​return-to-northpond/). Beth Orcutt wrote about microbiology on the Adopt-a-Microbe project website (, Amanda Haddad wrote for a special needs audience on the Classroom Connection website (​classroomconnection/), and Heath Mills wrote a blog about Mid-Atlantic Ridge microbiology hosted on Texas A&M’s College of Geosciences website (​blogs/​microbiology/). Altogether, more than 115 blog posts were published about Expedition 336.

Visits to the JOIDES Resolution website and page views within the site both increased significantly during Expedition 336. During the 6 weeks prior to the expedition there were 4,632 visits, resulting in 15,651 page views. During the first 6 weeks of the expedition, there were 11,044 visits (a 138% increase) and 42,217 page views (a 170% increase). Website viewership has increased since last year as well, possibly indicating that each expedition retains some followers and that networking has resulted in increased awareness. During the same 6 week period during 2010 (mid-September through October), there were 8,448 visits and 34,867 page views. Viewership during this expedition demonstrated a 31% increase in visits and a 21% increase in page views compared to last year (Fig. F13).

The expedition page on the JOIDES Resolution website contained information about the scientific background and objectives of the expedition, videos about different aspects of the instrumentation and operations, links to microbiology news articles, information about participants, and a daily math problem related to the expedition. Teachers and other participants in EOC activities were directed to this page for general information on the expedition prior to videoconferences. As a result, this page received over 3,165 views during the first 6 weeks of the expedition, which is 7.5% of the total 42,217 page views.

The onboard education officer, with the assistance of scientific, technical, and engineering staff, conducted 47 live ship-to-shore video interactions, reaching more than 1800 participants ranging from third grade through university (Table T1). The majority of these interactions were 30–45 min conferences with individual or combined elementary, middle, and high school classes ranging in size from 5 to 300 students. Schools were located across the United States in 13 states, as well as in France, Spain, England, Australia, and the Virgin Islands. Thirteen of the broadcasts were arranged on board with groups that had a direct connection to scientists on board. Four live seminars were broadcast from the ship to scientists’ home universities and conferences in France, England, and the United States (Texas and Florida). A total of 20 scientists, engineers, and technical staff members participated in the live broadcasts, both as hosts and as guests during the question-and-answer portion of the videoconferences.

Further information will be collected through user surveys, but initial responses from participating teachers indicate a generally positive response to the fast-paced virtual tours of shipboard laboratories and interviews with scientific, technical, and engineering staff. Teachers indicated that through participation in the videoconferences, their students learned more about geoscience content, marine careers, the JOIDES Resolution, and how science works.

Social media sites Facebook and Twitter were used to communicate up-to-the-minute information from the JOIDES Resolution. Increased traffic on both sites indicated a following of the expedition. In the month prior to the expedition, the JOIDES Resolution Facebook page had an average daily reach of 245 unique users, and an average of 20 users who engaged with the page on a daily basis. During the first 7 weeks of Expedition 336, this increased to an average daily reach of 835 unique users, including an average of 62 users engaging daily. During the expedition, more than 135 posts were made to the Facebook page, with an average viewership of 641 unique users. Photos were consistently the posts that engaged the most users, whereas posts tagged with other organizations’ pages (such as those made during Earth science week that were connected to the “Earth Science Week” Facebook page with a tag) had the most reach. A number of short videos were produced during the expedition, posted to YouTube and Vimeo, and shared via social networks. Subjects varied, but included shipboard life, expedition progress, drilling operations, and sampling procedures.

The Adopt-A-Microbe project, which was initially developed during IODP Expedition 327 to engage learners in microbiology research at the bottom of the ocean (Orcutt et al., 2011b), was rerun during Expedition 336. In this project, scientists on board the JOIDES Resolution, led by microbiologist Beth Orcutt, interacted with shore-based students and teachers through the project website, which is the location of a virtual “adoption center” for different notable microbes from the deep biosphere and for blogs announcing different weekly science and art activities and news from the expedition. Several shipboard scientists also contributed articles about their favorite microbe to the project website. The Adopt-A-Microbe project was also the portal for an art contest for decorating the subseafloor observatories installed during Expedition 336, representing the world’s deepest art installation.

Thirty-five different school groups, after-school programs, and families from around the United States and Spain officially registered to participate in the 10 week project. Participants received a free kit of materials for using in the weekly projects—including samples of sand, clay, basalt, pyrite, calcite, and materials for growing microbes—which was supplied from the Deep Earth Academy. The participants varied in age, with high school marine science and biology classes making up a large proportion. Several participating teachers developed their own class projects using the Adopt-A-Microbe weekly activities as a base, and these are now available for sharing with other programs. For the first time, a Spanish-language section was also incorporated into the project website, translated by scientist Tania Lado Insua, to engage with elementary school students in Spain.

This online interactive project was hosted on the website for C-DEBI at, with promotion through Facebook, Twitter, the JOIDES Resolution website and C-DEBI email listservs.

During Expedition 336, four special education classrooms in the Phoenix, Arizona, metro area interacted with shipboard scientists via weekly activities, blogs, question-and-answer sessions and Skype calls revolving around ocean exploration as part of the Classroom Connection initiative. The initiative was inspired by informal ship-to-classroom interactions during Expedition 327, during which one special education classroom in the Phoenix metro area read blogs and interviews written by shipboard scientists and submitted questions for the shipboard scientific party.

The Classroom Connection participants interacted with the shipboard scientific party via a web page hosted on the C-DEBI website (​classroomconnection/) for a total of 10 weeks (9 weeks at sea plus 1 introductory week before the expedition). Each week followed a different theme (e.g., life on the JOIDES Resolution, coring/​drilling, logistics, data collection, etc.), and each day of the week involved a different type of interaction—hands-on activities posted on Mondays, answers to student questions on Tuesdays, SciMath Career series interview on Wednesdays, blog on Thursdays, and WebDay Friday activities on Fridays—all revolving around the theme of the week. Each interaction addressed one or more Arizona state-mandated curriculum standards in one or more subjects (math, reading, writing, science, and social studies). The activities were designed to be easily adaptable to include every student in the classroom regardless of ability, and thus included several modes of assessment from reading and writing to pictorial representation, tactile models, and kinetic learning.

In addition to the classroom activities created for the Adopt-a-Microbe and Classroom Connection programs, three classroom activities were created for the JOIDES Resolution website. These activities focused on the process of deep-sea scientific drilling and combined art, math, creative thinking, technology, and the scientific process. The activities are ready to be tested in the classroom and will be added to the educational resources at Deep Earth Academy.