Webb School of Knoxville Middle School science teacher Kirk Beckendorf has been named a 2015 Science Communication Fellow by Dr. Robert Ballard's (discoverer of the Titanic) Ocean Exploration Trust (OET), and in September, will set sail aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus during its 2015 scientific expedition. The E/V Nautilus is one of only two ships in the world dedicated to ocean exploration.
Beckendorf joins the Corps of Exploration aboard E/V Nautilus as they use remote operating vehicles (ROVs) to explore the ocean floor and sea life off the coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. He will stand watch alongside scientists and engineers, as well as participate in live interactions with shore-based audiences via Nautilus Live (www.nautiluslive.org
), a 24-hour web portal bringing expeditions from the ocean to future explorers on shore.
Beckendorf's involvement will help immerse Webb School students in real-world science and engineering. While Beckendorf is on the Nautilus, eighth grade engineering and robotics teacher, Miller Callaway, will lead Webb students in building, designing and testing their own underwater ROVs; and learning how and why ROVs can be used in ocean exploration. The students will stay in close contact with Beckendorf through email, the Nautilus Live website and Skype-type calls directly to the ship.
Beckendorf was one of 28 educators and 26 students from around the world to be selected by the OET to join the Nautilus Corps of Exploration during its six-month expedition in the Gulf of Mexico, Galápagos Islands, and Eastern Pacific Ocean. The selected educators and students hail from schools, universities, science centers, aquaria, and non-profit organizations in 25 states in the United States, and five countries. As a Science Communication Fellow, Beckendorf is charged with the responsibility of engaging students and the public in the wonders of ocean exploration, sharing discoveries from the expedition, as well as inviting others to learn aspects of daily life aboard a working exploration vessel.
“I am both thrilled and humbled to have this exciting opportunity to be a part of bringing real world ocean science, engineering and exploration to the students at Webb School and to students of all ages across the globe,” Beckendorf said. “Although Knoxville is miles from Earth's ocean, it still has major effects on Tennessee, and the people in this landlocked state significantly impact the ocean,” he continued. “I hope to excite students with the opportunities that exist for them in the ocean sciences and help them think deeply about the connections between Earth's ecosystems.”
The OET was founded in 2008 by Ballard to explore the ocean, seeking out new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, archaeology, physics, and chemistry while pushing the boundaries of STEM education and technological innovation.
“One of the major goals of our Nautilus Exploration Program is to inspire the next generation of explorers in STEM fields,” said OET Executive Vice President, Dr. Katy Croff Bell, in an OET release, “so we are very excited to provide educators and students with the direct experience of ocean exploration, while allowing them the opportunity to share their experiences far and wide with their peers.”
The public, scientists, educators, and students can join Kirk Beckendorf's seagoing adventure via streaming video on the Nautilus Live website (www.nautiluslive.org
), or follow the expedition on social media – on Twitter @EVNautilus
and on Facebook or Instagram
at Nautilus Live