STEM Ocean Career Event at Birch Aquarium

What does it take to be a marine scientist? Local San Diego students (grades 6-12) had the opportunity to learn first-hand and interact with Scripps students, scientists and staff to hear about different paths to a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The annual event is hosted by the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is one of the many ways the aquarium connects scientists with our San Diego community.

Curious students and parents mingled with over 30 scientists at booths throughout the aquarium to learn more about specific projects and fields within marine and earth sciences. Guests also attended panel discussions where students can ask scientists directly about their careers. We hope that the students and parents in attendance were inspired by the diversity of opportunities and careers available in STEM fields.

This was the second year the 100 Island Challenge team has participated in this exciting event. The students were able to go on a ‘virtual’ dive using VR goggles, fly around a 3D coral reef model and handle the SCUBA gear and imaging equipment used underwater to conduct our surveys. In addition to the booth activities, the team organized a dive show to demonstrate a coral reef survey for attendees, highlighting our large-area imagery underwater collection methods.

The STEM Ocean Careers event is one of the many ways our team engages with the public, particularly students. For the past few years, the 100 Island Challenge team has been working side-by-side with Birch aquarium staff to brainstorm new and innovative ways to share our science. Throughout 2016, one of the largest exhibits in the Hall of Fishes was transformed to emulate coral reef habitats surveyed through the 100 Island Challenge research project and highlight the methodology developed at Scripps to track these habitats through time. Furthermore, the “Research in Action” exhibit offers a unique setting for students and scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to develop coral research techniques and test equipment and ideas before traveling to remote locations.

The 100 Island Challenge booth team. (Left to right) Beverly French, Nicole Pedersen, Ram Iyer, Melissa Torres (Birch aquarist), Lindsay Bonito, Esmeralda Alcantar, Samantha Clements.

Divers demonstrate 100 Island Challenge imaging survey techniques in the Research in Action exhibit tank