Written byMichael Toillion
April 3, 2023
Science Communication Aboard the JOIDES Resolution
Scientific Ocean Drilling and the Search for Life on Other Worlds
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure and privilege to board the JOIDES Resolution, an NSF-funded scientific ocean drilling vessel that doubles as a high-tech laboratory for studying core samples from the ocean floor.
The mission? To join 15 students and 3 instructors for the JR Academy: a one-week crash course in scientific ocean drilling, geology of the early Earth, and how to effectively communicate science to the rest of the world.
Our voyage, Expedition 398P, left the port city of Heraklion, Crete, Greece, sailing across the Mediterranean Sea to the port of Tarragona, Spain. As the island of Crete faded behind the ship, the JR Academy students began their life at sea, splitting their time between classroom discussions, hands-on workshops in the core lab, and team-based projects ranging from skits to poetry to interpretive dances on the origin of our planet.
After immersing themselves in the science of the JOIDES Resolution, I joined the instructors in a series of talks and activities on how to share their knowledge with the public. My medium of choice for science communication being video, I presented Pocket Film School, a crash course on how to shoot and edit videos on a smartphone.
"The science of the JOIDES Resolution unlocks the secrets of the early Earth and gives us incredible insights into the great 4.6 billion year history of our planet..."
The students and I discussed composition, lighting, editing and transition techniques, as well as best practices of storytelling. The students were then encouraged to take their own scientific experiences and create a short storyboard outlining how they would tell their stories.
The next logical step? Create a video showcasing the students’ newfound knowledge of scientific ocean drilling, astrobiology, and the search for life throughout the Universe!
Over the next two days, the students and I collaborated on a short video about the JOIDES Resolution and how it relates and informs NASA research and exploration. Each student was given their own scene and had to decide on the location, line delivery, and transition to the following scene. Their enthusiasm and creativity was nothing short of inspiring, and the final result really showcases the diverse talents of the group.
Click the image below to check out the full video on the NASA Astrobiology YouTube page:
It was an absolute pleasure spending time with the students and instructors of the JR Academy, as well as the technicians and crew of the JOIDES Resolution. While NASA’s gaze is always towards the stars, the journey to understanding life throughout the Universe always begins at home. By studying the Earth, we learn more about the origin of life and the ingredients needed for life to take form on other planets. The science of the JOIDES Resolution unlocks the secrets of the early Earth and gives us incredible insights into the great 4.6 billion year history of our planet, and I’m so grateful to have experienced a week in the life of a deep ocean explorer.
Special thanks to the National Science Foundation (NSF), the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), and the U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP). To learn more about the JOIDES Resolution and JR Academy, please visit the official website at joidesresolution.org.