Life of Ocean Explorers in Monterey Bay Inspires Students in Chesapeake

Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 by Melissa Howison

A deep-sea creature called the Dumbo octopus became the unofficial mascot of LINK After School last week when scientists shared the details of a sighting while speaking with students on a video conference call.

The proclaimed cuteness of the octopus won over students in Let’s Invest in Neighborhood Kids (LINK) After School, grades 3–6, who were participating in the National Geographic Explorer Classroom as part of their STEM learning course. Ocean explorers in Monterey Bay, California, shared insights about their work on the Exploration Vessel Nautilus.

Jamal Matthews, a 5th grade LINK After School student, was excited to see life on the boat first-hand.

He excitedly pointed out that the broadcast was happening. “Right now, today, live streaming stuff!” Jamal said. “And we can see [the water] going up and down, and they’re in that big boat that they can sleep in.”

LINK Students learn about ocean exploration through a video conference call with National Geographic field researchers.

Joe Grabowski, a National Geographic Science Communication Fellow, and Summer Farrell, an Argus pilot, spoke with LINK students during a live-streamed video conference call on Tuesday, October 23. LINK After School, a youth program at the Village Learning Place, was one of five after school programs selected to participate in the digital conversation that day.

Joe and Summer, two members of the 30-person science crew aboard the EV Nautilus, started off the hour-long video conference by offering background information about the vessel and their mission. The EV Nautilus is one of two ships in the world dedicated entirely to exploration and is currently in the midst of a 6-month excursion down the western coasts of Canada and the United States.

“We explore areas of the ocean that have never been explored or are poorly understood,” Joe told the students. He said a lot of their work focuses on ecosystems 3,000 meters—nearly 2 miles—below the surface.

Joe and Summer explained how scientists aboard the ship use sonar to map areas of the sea floor that have never been mapped before. Summer also helps pilot underwater robots to collect video footage and marine samples.

Jamal was particularly inspired by the technology the scientists use and said learning about all of it was his favorite part.

Students saw images of the deep sea marine life that the EV Nautilus team has captured, including photos of the Dumbo octopus.

Lilah and Azmi watch excitedly as Joe and Summer share photos of deep sea creatures.

“I learned about the bubblegum coral plant,” said Azmi, a LINK After School 3rd grade student. “It can live a lot of days and months and years. Also, it’s one kind of home for little crabs. That is called a habitat.”

Students were then able to ask Joe and Summer some questions. Dahlia and Anthony, both LINK After School 3rd grade students, and Damont, a 5th grade student, asked questions about the scientists’ underwater discoveries, what inspired their careers, and life on the boat.

“It felt pretty good because we actually saw it ourselves. We actually got to ask them a question,” Damont said.

Joe encouraged all the students watching to stay curious about science and to consider a future in the field.

“There are tons of things left to discover and lots to explore in our oceans, so I think that could be a pretty cool career path to follow,” Joe said.

Damont, Jamal, and David listen intently during National Geographic Exploration Classroom.

You can watch the entire video online and see LINK After School students asking questions Dahlia (29:00), Damont (42:26), and Anthony (53:45).

Rare footage of the Dumbo octopus, collected by the EV Nautilus team that morning, is also online here.