Monday, March 30, 2009

Ocean Explorer Brings Undersea Science to Life

The JASON Project connects students with explorers during live sea expeditions to motivate and excite students about science. It’s called “telepresence” technology that enables an unmanned robot submarine to stay in the ocean 24-7. If a robot submarine finds a major discovery – maybe a lost city or sunken ship - experts in the scientific fields can be at a command center within 20 minutes, remotely controlling the submarine and its cameras. Through a live production studio students will be able to experience these breakthroughs.

How is this possible? Fiber-optic cables will transmit video feeds from cameras on the robot submarines to a command center at the University of Rhode Island’s Institute for Archaeological Oceanography. Other command centers are being built at 11 other oceanography institutes across the country which are linked through the ultra high-speed Internet2. National Geographic is spending $11 million to help build the live production studio.

Students at Internet2 connected schools will be able to view the remote camera images from the sea floor and listen to live conversations among the scientists. Rhode Island middle schools are connected to Internet2 and the district is building remote command centers in the school libraries. With this access the students will be able to see firsthand the explorations and be able to remotely control the submarines. How cool is that?

According the Robert Ballard, founder of the JASON Project, the reason for targeting the JASON Project to middle grades was simple – he wants the future stars to be scientists and educators and if students aren’t interested in science by eighth grade he doesn’t think they will become interested in the upper grades.

Who is Robert Ballard? He's a former commander in the United States Navy and an oceanographer who discovered the wreck of the Titanic in 1985, the battleship Bismarck in 1989, the USS Yorktown in 1998 and most recently John F. Kennedy's PT-109 in 2003. To learn more about Robert Ballard go to:

To learn more about the JASON Project go to:

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