The NMEA Three

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A Scrabble board in the hotel lobby gives a little insight to the NMEA crowd. Photo courtesy of Sean Russell’s Twitter account @seandrussell

What’s it like to spend a week surrounded by a few hundred marine science educators from around the world?

Amazing.

Last week, the Ocean 180 team was at the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) Meeting in Annapolis, MD. Since wrapping up the conference, I’ve been struggling to find a way to sum up the experience. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I drew from the advice of Bill Street, one of the many outstanding guest speakers at NMEA, who reminded us of a key communication tool: The rule of 3.

While the rule of 3 is seen in music, catch-phrases, and comedy, it’s a concept scientists and educators alike can pull upon. Messages and ideas are believed to be more memorable when presented in a set of 3. It’s also considered the maximum number of things you can retain in your working memory at once. When presenting your work, or teaching a new subject, it’s good practice to think of the 3-4 main messages you want your audience to retain and build around those messages.

So, following such advice, I give you the “NMEA Three”.

 

1. Twitter is powerful. Forget what you thought you knew about Twitter. When used correctly, it can be a very powerful and useful tool in science and education. Twitter is a great platform to connect with colleagues, network from 1,000s of miles away, share ideas, and find news related to your interests. At NMEA, and many conferences today, the meeting encourages “live-Tweeting” of sessions, asking you to brand your comments with a specific hashtag (#). Hashtags really do have a purpose! They allow you to track the conversations and lectures at meetings from anywhere, even from within the conference. By following the #NMEA14 tag, it made it possible for those not at the meeting to “listen in” on sessions. It even gives attendees the chance to learn from more than one concurrent presentation, like an accelerated note taking/sharing process. While it’s by no means a perfect communication tool, it’s value, in both science and education, may be greater than you had anticipated.

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Enjoying the National Aquarium with marine science educators from around the world!

2. Science videos and storytelling matter. Our team was fortunate enough to present during the meeting, sharing the first year of Ocean 180 and encouraging scientists and teachers to join us in our second year. While the response from attendees- both classroom teachers and informal education leaders- was overwhelmingly positive, it was even more validating to hear the values of Ocean 180 echoed in other programs around the world. The use of short videos, storytelling, and real-world science applications are becoming increasingly prevalent in how science is presented to student and adult audiences alike. While Ocean 180 provides an outlet for video storytelling, we are just one of many ways it can be utilized in education and science outreach Our team is thrilled and humbled to to be a part of this movement and we hope you will be too.

2. Be Inspired. We usually hear about the shortcomings in our education system and the doom-and-gloom facing our environment. Even just a Google search of “science education” leads you to articles highlighted with words like “failing”, “rebuilding”, and “problems”. And yet, these 4 days surrounded by science educators left you feeling nothing short of inspired and hopeful. Yes, science education, from the classroom to the aquarium, is facing challenges. Attendees at NMEA were not ignoring the hurdles they have faced and will in the future, but they were calling them out and responding with solutions. In the middle of all the negative news surrounding science education, here were hundreds of individuals working to make things better and challenging you to do the same. Whether you’re a teacher or scientist, be inspired by your work- it’s amazingly contagious.

 

Were you at NMEA? What were your “NMEA Three”? Share you experiences and comments with us here, or over on Twitter @Ocean180Video!

 

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