National Museum of Education, Akron, Ohio.
WhaleNet operating out of Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts.
Northwest Invention Center of Seattle, Washington.
Part 2 - Long road toward the educational mission...
October 30, 2007 - Day 113 6.3909N,154.3100W
Christopher Beer gave me the best advice on that first day that I met him: "surround yourself with good people and the dream will take care of itself," he would say. There was wisdom in those words. The nonprofit we had formed as Around-n-Over, would provide structure to our efforts, accountability to our operations, and a venue for others to participate in the mission.
We had an initial founding team of board members which gradually evolved into a larger group including new members and officers. There were friends old and new, who shared the dream and the vision.
We quickly learned to qualify our audience also; not everybody needed to know about our dreams, not everybody would understand, not everybody would help. Educational collaboration was in our minds all along. One day, I shared my ideas with Ed Sobey of the Northwest Invention Center.
Ed Sobey is President of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Explorers Club and is the "Global Evangelist for Creative Learning" with a PhD in oceanography. He is passionate about the process of invention and innovation in education and in businesses. As a leader in their field, they also provide workshops to encourage creative thinking and inventive learning.
It did not take long before Ed Sobey had introduced us to the National Museum of Education (NMoE) in Akron, Ohio. NMoE's mission statement is to celebrate the learning, insight, creativity, and workmanship of America's students, teachers, administrators, and all those who have made a positive contribution to the educational process by recognizing and preserving their accomplishments for the inspiration of future generations.
NMoE will be spearheading the educational activities surrounding our human powered journeys, starting with this Pacific crossing. Founded and led by Nick Frankovits, NMoE is staffed all by educators. They have been operating for the last 17 years, helping students and teachers turn their inventions into saleable products, honoring young inventors across the USA, developing national invention competitions, honoring teachers who overcome adversity for the sake of their students, providing guidelines for invention competitions, and holding science and language camps.
Just before my launch on this crossing, NMoE sent me two Hobo Data Loggers sponsored by the Onset Corporation. I programmed these to collect ambient temperature data for over 200 days, and installed one underwater at the tip of my rudder, another in a shady spot on deck. We will extract these water and air temperature data once I reach Australia. Hopefully I programmed them correctly!
NMoE in turn introduced us to WhaleNet which is sponsored by Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts. WhaleNet had its initial support from the National Science Foundation. It is an interactive, award-winning World Wide Web site that offers engaging hands-on activities, real-time satellite tracking data from whales, seals and dolphins, as well as years of right whale sighting data from both the feeding and calving areas.
We were fortunate to learn that Professor J. Michael Williamson could readily receive the ARGOS tracking data from my boat, and add this "two legged mammal" to the WhaleNet collection. We all hoped that I would get to spot a great number of wildlife species on my Pacific crossing.
The primary goals of WhaleNet's worldwide staff are: facilitating and coordinating learning in a variety of fields; enhancing general interest in science; developing problem-solving and other critical-thinking skills; and increasing environmental awareness. Educators also use WhaleNet's vast resources to enhance curricula in science, geography, math, reading, writing, environmental science, and of course, computers.
WhaleNet offers exciting scientific discoveries while combining the best in education, environmental awareness, and technology. At WhaleNet, researchers share their personal experiences about studying whales. Individually and in classroom groups, their online visitors send, receive and share scientific data. Millions of people around the world share a unique glimpse inside the daily lives of marine scientists and the creatures they study. During the school year WhaleNet receives over 1 million hits per month. In 2006, the total hits exceeded 16 million, with a steadily rising trend.
WhaleNet is used by people who study the marine environment, and by non-scientists who want to experience the excitement of a whale research. By combining a dynamic team of scientists and organizations with the latest whale research data, WhaleNet provides a global source of accessible information and allows for exciting interaction between students, teachers and researchers.
And now, the Northwest Invention Center, the National Museum of Education, WhaleNet and Around-n-Over have each other to collaborate in creating educational value. We at Around-n-Over could not be more grateful for the contributions of these fine institutions to support our dream. We are indeed surrounded by good people.