Dolphins, Drones, and Giant Clams…Oh My!

After nearly 2 months of careful deliberation, thoughtful evaluation, and thorough score-keeping, the top 4 entries in the 2015 Ocean 180 Video Challenge have been announced!

Throughout January and February, over 37,000 middle school students in 336 schools and across 21 countries were asked to view and critique each of the top 10 entries to this year’s Challenge. After reviewing all of the finalists, 1,637 classrooms cast their votes for the wining videos. With such an outstanding pool of entries in the top 10, agreeing on the winners was not always easy for classrooms to do. But, with some help from our judging rubric and the guidance of their teachers, students around the world helped us determine which scientists best communicated the results and significance of their research.

So, who won?

CARTHE2“Drones at the Beach”, created by a team of scientists from the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE) and Waterlust, took the title of top amateur entry. Using GoPro cameras and drones, these scientists are able to study how oil and other toxins will move through the ocean as they make their way from deep water to the coast. Students were captivated by the film’s impressive images, but were mostly excited that they were able understand the purpose of their research and got the chance to see how scientists are working to protect the ocean.

20150112_Talon_KOJ_kd_009Student judges were equally impressed with the top professional entry “Dolphin Research Center Blindfold Imitation Study”. Submitted by scientists at the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys, the film explored research which led to the discovery that dolphins have the ability to copy one another, even when blindfolded!  Although the film certainly has the “wow factor” of dolphins, it was the clear explanation of the study, organization, and the unexpected results that drew in the student judges’ attention.

dr-claire-simeone3The runner-up to this year’s Challenge also focused on dolphins, but from a different perspective. Marine veterinarian Dr. Claire Simeone from The Marine Mammal Center in California created the entry “How to treat a bruised flipper: Developing pain medication for dolphins”, which shares her study examining how long pain medications can provide relief for sick or injured dolphins. For many student judges, this was an new field of research they had never heard of or considered and gave them a chance to see how scientists play a role in keeping animals healthy.

Charley Mug 2.bmpWinning both the 3rd place title and the award for furthest-travelling submission, “Rescuing the Gentle Giants” impressed student judges with its positive message, encouragement to get involved in marine conservation efforts, and introduction to a species many had never seen before. In the video abstract, Charles Waters explains his research on the giant clam populations in the Cook Islands, and how he and his team are working to bring these animals back from the brink of extinction. Although most student judges have never been to that part of the world, or even heard of giant clams, this entry inspired them to consider what role they could have in helping to protect their local ecosystems.

These top 4 entries, along with all of the 2015 Ocean 180 Finalists, clearly made an impression on the student judging team! It was so exciting to review the comments from each of the classrooms, seeing how much they learned from the video abstracts and how they were inspired by each of the entries. We cannot thank the participating scientists and teachers enough for their involvement this year, and dedication to bringing ocean science to life for students around the world!


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