2017 Ambassadors, left to right: Catherine Greenspon, Samuel Freeman, Katherine Gertz, Stacy Sinclair, Katelyn Sullivan, Hector Martinez
As E/V Nautilus begins exploring Central California this year, the Corps of Exploration welcomes the 2017 cohort of the Nautilus Ambassador Program aboard. Nautilus Ambassadors are leading educators in communities participating in OET’s Community STEM Program. Ambassadors represent their community at sea and will return home as role models and leaders in helping other educators become familiar with the importance of ocean exploration as well as OET’s education programs and resources. With the support of OET partners -- CITGO, AltaSea, and the Goldhirsh Foundation -- six Nautilus Ambassadors will participate in this unique education program.
Selected from a competitive pool of applicants, Nautilus Ambassadors are invited aboard E/V Nautilus to experience life aboard a research vessel and to see firsthand how deep-sea exploration and research is conducted. The group gains exposure to real-world applications of the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts, and leadership skills taught in classrooms, after school programs, museums, and educational institutions ashore. The Nautilus Ambassadors join the Corps of Exploration as full expedition members shadowing STEM professionals around the vessel, standing watch during exploration dives using remotely operated vehicle technology, and helping to communicate the excitement of exploration and discoveries on www.NautilusLive.org.
Furthering their reach as community role models, Ambassadors conduct ship-to-shore live Q&A broadcasts to museums, aquaria, libraries, camps, schools and educator conferences for their hometown audiences. They also share their unique perspectives contributing to lesson plan development and OET’s social media - Facebook and Instagram as NautilusLive and on Twitter @EVNautilus. The program at sea coaches Ambassadors to help colleagues and students become engaged in ocean exploration.
Four of the 2017 Nautilus Ambassadors represent Community STEM Programs established in partnership with CITGO. Since 2014, CITGO and OET have partnered to create a variety of STEM educational opportunities for teachers and students in TX, LA, and IL. This effort reflects a broader initiative by CITGO to promote academic exploration in the STEM fields. The CITGO-OET Community STEM partnership also supports educator professional development opportunities, STEM enrichment curricula, classroom grants, and in-classroom programs across greater Lake Charles, Louisiana, Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, and Lemont, Illinois.
- Greater Lake Charles, Louisiana’s CITGO Nautilus Ambassador is Katherine Gertz, a fourth-grade teacher at E. K. Key Elementary School. Born into a family of scientists, Gertz credits her family with instilling in her a deep sense of curiosity. In her STEM-focused classroom, Katherine believes in the power of imagination, curiosity, and problem-solving. Students are encouraged to think outside the box, to develop their own questions, explore their own ideas, and solve real world problems.
- The STEM Community of Lemont, Illinois is represented by CITGO Nautilus Ambassador Catherine Greenspon, the co-founder of Project Infinite Green afterschool program and Lemont’s STEM in Sports summer programs. Greenspon designed Project Infinite Green to promote STEM education and educate children about the energy sources we rely on in our modern world. Her programs focus on providing learners with practical interactive experiences guided by industry professionals.
- Samuel Freeman Jr., a social studies teacher at London Middle School, was selected as the CITGO Nautilus Ambassador representing Corpus Christi, Texas. Freeman looks forward to bringing this unique opportunity back to his students connecting them to fields or careers perhaps brand-new to them. Always looking for new ways to connect with students, Freeman calls upon his diverse background as a multi-sport coach, 22-year US Marine Corps Electronics Repair Technician, and educator to bring real-world cross connections to his teaching.
- CITGO Nautilus Ambassador Hector Martinez represents Houston, Texas, his home district of Alief Independent School District, and Olle Middle School where he teaches eighth-grade science. Hector works closely with the ESL population at Olle and looks forward to exploring the ocean floor with sophisticated technology to bring that experience back to the classroom for his students and the campus’ STEMtastic club which provides after school STEM enrichment activities and events. Being able to connect with the community from aboard the vessel is an exciting opportunity to showcase the research and possibilities the Nautilus is leading.
Two of the 2017 Nautilus Ambassadors represent the greater Los Angeles area and are supported by OET’s newest Community STEM Program partnership collaborating with AltaSea and supported by a Goldhirsh Foundation LA2050 grants. AltaSea and OET share a commitment to facilitate scientific discoveries while cultivating the next generation of STEM professionals and community leaders.
- Stacy Sinclair is a curriculum developer and the Director of Education for Loyola Marymount University’s Center for Urban Resilience. She will represent greater Los Angeles as an AltaSea Nautilus Ambassador. In her roles she teaches environmental studies to undergraduates and leads the Center’s outreach education to teachers, serving over 100 educators and nearly 800 students in Title 1 schools across greater Los Angeles annually. She anticipates deepening her connection to and understanding of the ocean environment through this experience and sharing it with a broad community.
- Katelyn Sullivan is the Education Coordinator for the Aquarium of the Pacific and will bring her informal education experience to Nautilus as an AltaSea Nautilus Ambassador. As an educator at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Katelyn’s role is to create safe spaces for exploring and learning about the Pacific Ocean and its inhabitants. She looks forward to becoming more familiar with the technological advances on Nautilus and the learning the challenges inherent in exploring such a large body of water so that she can develop interactive experiences for aquarium visitors that allow them to understand the complexities in ocean research.
After their experience at sea, each Ambassador returns home equipped as an education community leader helping colleagues and students become engaged in ocean exploration. Nautilus Ambassadors are important hometown STEM role models and expand the impact of OET’s education mission to inspire the next generation of explorers and STEM professionals.
E/V Nautilus will move north along Central California’s shoreline, renowned for natural rugged beauty that parallels underwater features. In the deep waters off the coast, numerous submarine canyons cross-cut the continental slope, some of which feature exposed canyon walls rich in methane and other chemicals that support unique microbial and animal communities. Sediments carried by longshore currents also often end up in these canyons, transporting organic matter into the deep sea.