FL – ScienceOnline Oceans, Wrap-Up

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October 14, 2013 by Dr. G

How often does a conference hotel have a view like this??? (Answer: not very often!)

How often does a conference hotel have a view like this??? (Answer: not very often!)

Wow – it is amazing how much information can be packed in to such a short time.  With one day for workshops, one day for conference sessions, and one day for fieldtrips, I feel that I have been in Miami for much longer for ScienceOnline Oceans with all that I have learned.  It is going to take quite a bit of time to process all of this information, follow up on personal contacts and recommended resources, and to really realize the impact this conference has made and will continue to make on my work in the classroom with students and passion for doing outreach to the greater community.

So to start my post-conference processing, I’ve created a list of the top five “ah-ha!” and “wow!” conference moments for me at ScienceOnline Oceans.

Top 5 Conference Moments

  1. 60-second podcasting workshop – This workshop is how I started the conference, and my excitement for what I learned never diminished the entire time.  I can’t wait to spend more time with the COMPASS Message Box and thinking of how I can make my podcasting assignments more meaningful for students. (see my post about the workshop)
  2. Story Collider – I can’t believe I had never heard of Story Collider before this conference.  From their website: “At the Story Collider, we believe that everyone has a story about science—a story about how science made a difference, affected them, or changed them on a personal and emotional level. We find those stories and share them in live shows and on our podcast. Sometimes, it’s even funny.”  These stories found online are stories I can share with my students as well, to show them that scientists are everyday people with a passion for what they do – and yes, sometimes, we are funny!  I’m thinking I may have to create my own Story Collider story to share….
  3. Beneath the Waves Film Festival – Although there was not an entire session dedicated to this topic, the Beneath the Waves Film Festival was the springboard for the first session I attended Saturday morning (see my post).  From their website: “The Beneath the Waves Film Festival aims to encourage, inspire, and educate scientists, advocates, and the general public to produce and promote open-access, engaging marine-issue documentaries. Our goal is to facilitate widespread science communication by bringing together marine films from around the world for open discussion, while also providing hands-on educational opportunities for researchers interested in film and media outreach.”  This session was incredibly helpful in getting me to think how multimedia projects I do with my students can reach a broader audience beyond our course and beyond our campus.  It also showed me that, overall, more needs to be done to communicate science and to encourage discussion and action.
  4. Applying apps in the field session – I have been waiting for a conference session like this for a long time!  (see my post)  With such active contributions from audience members and the facilitators, I left this session with information on an amazing number of apps I can use with students on my classroom iPads and to share with the K-12 teachers I work with.  I now know where to go to try to start creating my own apps for data collection with student research – and I can’t wait to get started!  This session alone was “worth the price of admission” to the conference!
  5. Shark tagging trip – Who knew that coming up with no sharks still would make this one of my favorite parts of the conference?  Getting to go out to the field site on a boat and learning about the amazing work of UM’s RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program was truly inspiring.  (see my post)  The resources on their website alone will provide me with excellent ideas and resources to use when I teach my Introduction to Oceanography course the next time.


I also compiled my top 5 list of the biggest takeaways for me as I go back to Penn State Brandywine, classroom teaching, and my own outreach activities.

Top 5 take-home messages

  1. The value of a good audio/video file – Audio and video are very effective means of communicating any science topic.  But both tools should be used thoughtfully, paying careful attention to quality, length, the message, and the target audience.  There is significant pre-planning that should be completed before the first sound or image is even recorded.  Only then can these tools be used for education and advocacy.
  2. There is a reason to blog – There is a benefit to blogging, and it is not just a personal benefit.  People read blogs for various reasons and for a range of content.  The top priority for the blogger is to find a topic that he/she is passionate about and to be consistent with the message.  Just like using podcasts or movies, blogs serve an important role in communicating marine science and issues.
  3. There is an amazing network on Twitter – I really value the community of geologists I am connected with on Twitter, but I was amazed to see how there is also an incredible network of marine scientists on Twitter!  Although I know some people are quick to dismiss Twitter and feel that nothing can be accomplished with 140 characters or less, just look for the #ScioOceans hashtag and see how that was trending during the conference.
  4. No data is data – Although I cringe when this happens with my own work and the work my students complete, it was a healthy reminder that when our work as scientists comes up “empty,” that is just as important as the rest of our results.
  5. There is alot of work left to do – These conference leave me energized and inspired, but ScienceOnline Oceans has also reminded me that much more work needs to be done.  As a scientist and an educator, I can work with students to harness the power of technology and the internet to make a difference with even the simplest of first steps – just getting the word out.


I’m still overwhelmed with all I have learned at this conference and the ScienceOnline Climate conference just a short time ago.  This has been a great community to connect with that is using the online environment to do some amazing and innovative things to advance science research, education, and engagement.  Now it is time for me to consider if I should go for the trifecta this year by attending the ScienceOnline annual conference, ScienceOnline Together…

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