Ten weeks ago, Ocean 180 opened classroom registration for teachers around the world and the response has been nothing short of incredible.
Since July, 227 teachers have added nearly 1,000 classrooms and more than 22,000 middle school students to our judging team. These students will be responsible for viewing and evaluating the top 10 video abstracts, searching for the entries they feel best explain the significance and results of recent ocean science research.
Students participating in Ocean 180 play an important role in the contest. They provide critique and feedback for scientists submitting entries, while ultimately determining who will take home a portion of this year’s $9,000 prize package.
But what do students get by participating?
Aside from having their school listed on our global student judging team, it may be hard to tell what the benefits are to students. Thankfully, we have some wonderful teachers involved with Ocean 180 who have shared their students’ experiences with us.
When teachers complete their registration, they are given the chance to explain why they are interested in participating. Comments from teachers returning for a second year highlight the benefits Ocean 180 has provided their classes. While these comments are not part of an official evaluation, they do provide a glimpse into what students are gaining from their involvement.
In their comments, several teachers have remarked on the ability to use video abstracts to make real world connections to science. The videos created by scientists have helped many students see the subject as more than just a class or a single lesson, test, or assignment.
“Too often, students only see science in isolation with the benchmarks assigned to them, rather than the real world application of that learning. I’m anxious for this year’s 8th graders to have this opportunity as well.” – Wesley Chapel, Florida
“Last year was a success in having students see science happen in real life. They were exposed to multiple areas of research and even see the scientific method of inquiry at work.”- Chicago, IL
Ocean scientists who submit videos also have the chance to show students a different side of science, perhaps even breaking some of the stereotypes of we are constantly working to overcome.
“Students tend to have the misconception that all scientists wear a lab coat and work in a laboratory. The Ocean 180 Challenge presents my students with a unique perspective from scientists working in the field. This provides students with real world examples of what scientists are currently working on.”- Glen Allen, VA
For many teachers, the opportunity to give students a vote, a voice, and an opinion in science has been a powerful point of the contest. We have heard from a number of teachers and students that science can be intimidating, but that participating in Ocean 180 gives each student an opportunity to raise their voice in the scientific arena. They have the chance to see the power their opinions can have, even in a subject they find difficult.
“[Participating in Ocean 180] let my students see the voting process and realize that they can have an impact on decisions, quality of products and be influential in their lives.” – Cedar Hills, Utah
“They felt their voices counted and were detailed with their assessments of each film.” – Reading, PA
And while Ocean 180 offers a fun opportunity for students to engage with science, several teachers remarked the program exposes their students to new career opportunities. Aside from casting their ballots and learning more about research, students are able to see how far science can take them.
“It is important that students see the work of real scientists, and be able to envision science (beyond being a doctor) being a future career possibility”- Kaohsiung, Taiwan
“I want my students to see that scientific inquiry does not stop at the classroom. It is ongoing and a viable way to earn a living.” – Old Orchard Beach, Maine
“My students loved it last year and got a better understanding of things that researchers do and how they do it. Made many of them want to do research when they grew up!” – Baton Rouge, Louisiana
While each classroom will have a different experience with Ocean 180, it’s exciting to hear so many teachers outlining how the program has benefited their students. We love to hear stories and feedback from classrooms around the world and hope those involved will continue to share their experiences with us.
Although scientists may claim the Ocean 180 title and cash prize, the videos they produce can have a strong impact on students around the world. In submitting a video abstract, ocean scientists have an opportunity to share their excitement and passion for science and discovery with thousands of students. It’s a chance to inspire potential future ocean scientists, to teach, and to expose students to the vast possibilities in science.