Adopt-A-Float Program

The Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling (SOCCOM) project is partnering with teachers and classrooms across the country to inspire and educate students about the Southern Ocean biogeochemistry and climate change through a pilot “Adopt-A-Float” initiative. This program creates a powerful opportunity for elementary- and secondary-school-aged students to engage directly with world-class scientists and learn about their research by naming and tracking SOCCOM floats.

Learn about the floats:


Pixel – a float launched at the end of 2017 named by the Stanford Online High School

The process is simple. If you are interested in having your class adopt a float, please contact George Matsumoto (mage AT mbari DOT org). He will help Climate Central (working with SOCCOM) pair your class with SOCCOM scientists scheduled to deploy floats in the Southern Ocean. The students have the opportunity to give a name to a soon-to-be-deployed float, and follow its progress to sea through blogs written by their paired SOCCOM scientists (please review the naming guidelines).   Each float will have the name that you selected as well as a MBARI ID number and a WMO (World Meteorological Organization) number. You can track your float through SOCCOM’s interactive map which is fun because it also shows the float tracks of all the other SOCCOM floats. We are working on improving the functionality of this map, right now you have to mouse around to find your float or use the latitude/longitude of the deployment to help find your location. In addition, each classroom can track its “adopted” float’s trajectory and data collection via a special adopt-a-float version of SOCCOMViz.

We have also created a full size model of the float that could be picked up at MBARI (or in some cases, shipped to your classroom) that can be used to help students visualize a float’s sensor configuration.

The SOCCOM education float (left) and an annotated student rendering (right)

Biogeochemical parameters provided by most SOCCOM floats can include pH, nitrate, oxygen, fluorescence, and backscatter, in addition to the temperature, salinity, and pressure measurements that are collected by other floats. The SOCCOM at Sea blog will be updated during the expeditions. “Shum Shows” (created by Greta Shum of Princeton University) on YouTube teach about Sensor Preparation and what it is like to be On Location in the Southern Ocean.

A variety of worksheets and classroom materials have been gathered or developed by science teacher Joanna Chierici (see below) to help students with synthesizing different types of float data. Before her class got the demonstration float, the students did some simple ocean-current, density, and temperature labs to show what type of things can be measured in the ocean and how the currents move. She started with some existing curriculum (Ducks in the Flow, Going with the Flow, and The Ocean in Motion) and then created some additional Ocean Current activities.

Joanna Chierici explains her lessons: “When we received the float, we went over how the float worked and why we use them using the PowerPoint and the blog worksheet (we used the SOCCOM At Sea Blog). There are some YouTube videos embedded in the PowerPoint. I also created a simple instruction guide for the website to extract data. After we learned about the float, we used the data worksheet to look at our floats. We then linked all this to biogeochemical cycles and climate change. I used these resources with grades 6 through 9. It was a really worthwhile experience and the students loved seeing their float on the blog and the videos that Greta made last year. We were able to integrate it seamlessly into our earth science curriculum.”

Another activity developed by Princeton Day School teachers Ron Banas and Jack Madani is also available.

Tracking Ocean Surface Currents (Grade 7 Activity)

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