Oregon State University

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences

Regional Class Research Vessel (RCRV) Outreach

Through partnerships with the Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences (SMILE) Program, Oregon Sea Grant, the Marine Resource Management Program and the Coastal STEM Hub, the Regional Class Research Vessel (RCRV) Project is working to meet Outreach & Education goals.
The Outreach and Education Plan has three main components:

  • Public Education
  • Educator Professional Development and Student Engagement
  • Researcher Education and Professional Development

By developing or contributing to educational programs and exhibits we hope to help the public understand the importance of the Ocean to the world, country and local communities.

Through curricula, videos and other forms of information that will be shared with educators during professional development events, we hope to increase ocean and data literacy and show K-12 students how scientific observations made at sea are the crux of understanding, discovering, tracking and predicting natural and human-impacted processes within and beyond the Ocean.

In providing professional development opportunities for researchers, we hope to build and maintain effective infrastructure services aboard each RCRV that can enable each science party to set and achieve meaningful broader outreach and education goals seamlessly and with minimal costs.

As the project progresses, so will our educator resources. Take a look at what we have:

Build a Boat for Scientific Research

In this lesson students will build a boat for scientific research. In the process they will learn about buoyancy, boat design, and tradeoffs to meet needs/goals (speed, stability, weight, and space).

Mission Submersible

Students will design and build a working model of a launch and recovery system from a set of everyday items. The goal is that whatever they develop has safety features that limit swinging on a moving research vessel. Systems must be able to pick up and launch/recover “scientific packages” of varying sizes and weights and safely place them into the “ocean” and bring them back aboard the vessel.

Mystery of the Disappearing Pteropods: Dude Where's My Shell

In this lesson, students must recognize and identify patterns within the population of pteropods they are studying, analyze those patterns, and then create a claim about what is happening to the pteropods population. Their teams will then be tasked with presenting that claim to ‘ODFW’ based on evidence that they collected.

Engineering a Solution to Marine Debris

Students will learn about the most prevalent type of marine debris: plastics and microplastics. Students explore a variety of ways scientists have engineered solutions to marine debris. Students will design their own trash collectors to remove marine debris from the oceans, and beaches, or prevent it from entering the waterways.

In the Belly of the Whale

Students work in cooperative groups and participate in a hands-on activity that simulates the feeding methods of the humpback, right, and gray whales. Students collect data and construct a bar graph to compare the feeding styles of these three baleen whales, and share findings with the class.

Plastic Soup

Students talk about what the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is and how it got there. Students explore a variety of types of marine debris. Students will view a demonstration about how floating debris acts, and how ocean debris is affected by wind currents. Students play a matching game that will help them determine what types of organisms would be affected by which types of marine debris.

Secret Life of Plankton

Students learn about the diversity of plankton and are then challenged to design a planktonic organism. The best model of a planktonic organism will sink slowly or be neutrally buoyant representing the real-world planktonic organisms. Students will watch a video and be given pictures of planktonic organisms and then be provided with simple materials to build with. After designing with their team mates, students test and race their plankton in a simulated ocean.

Voices from the Deep

Students analyze popular and classical songs to understand how people use music to communicate. Students construct a graph to diagram real whale song sounds and create lyrics for whale song phrases. In addition, students will examine ways scientists capture whale songs and human sources of noise pollution in whale habitats.

You Are What You Eat

In this lesson students build on their knowledge of marine debris. Students will learn that whales and other species are increasingly at risk from plastics and microplastics. Students will play an interactive game based on whale feeding strategies and whale exposure to plastic associated toxins.

Volcanoes: The Ring of Fire in the Pacific Northwest

Students will learn about the most active submarine volcano located 300 miles of the coast of Oregon — Axial Seamount. This submarine volcano is home to the first underwater research station called the Cabled Axial Seamount Array, from which researchers stream data and track underwater eruptions via fiber optic cables. Students will learn that researchers also monitor Axial Seamount using research vessels and remote operated vehicles.

The Axial Seamount: Life on a Vent

Students will learn about ecosystems at hydrothermal vents. Hydrothermal vents were only discovered in 1977, and as more vents are explored we are finding out more about the unique creatures that live there. In Life on a Vent students will learn about vent organisms, their feeding relationships, and use that information to construct a food web.

More RCRV Themed Activities!

The RCRV Project also partnered with MBARI Earth 2018 workshop. They have developed several RCRV themed lessons, such as Introduction to Remote Operated Vehicles, Building your Shipwright (web quest for ocean research), and several other marine themed lessons. These lessons can be found at the link below.

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Engagement

The RCRV team has a graduate student from the Marine Resource Management Program. This student is doing research by communicating with experts on the use and communication of real time data for researchers, educators and websites. This research will help to guide outreach efforts within the project. In addition, the student is doing thesis work on improving high school science students attitudes towards science and their scientific literacy. This is done by testing different types of learning activities, including a data centered learning experience.

The SMILE program engages undergraduate students in the RCRV project by incorporating them as mentors in events as well as through a partnership with the Mechanical Engineering (ME)undergraduate program. As part of their “capstone project”, a team of students were challenged to build a model launch and recovery arm that represented what will be on new research vessels. The final model was used by over 300 middle and high school students during annual engineering challenges throughout Oregon as an example from which to build their own simpler version and to launch a prototype underwater rover. Students documented their process in videos that they created for middle and high school students. Check them out here:

Mechanical Engineering Team Videos


Questions? Contact smileprogram@oregonstate.edu or OregonCoastSTEM@oregonstate.edu

arm ES boat workshop data CTD MDD student