Where the Wild Microbes Are: Education and Outreach on Sub-Seafloor Microbes

Monday, 15 December 2014
Sharon K Cooper1, Kevin Kurtz2, Beth Orcutt3, Lisa Strong4, Jennifer Collins1 and Alice Feagan5, (1)Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Washington, DC, United States, (2)Independent author, Rochester, NY, United States, (3)Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science, East Boothbay, ME, United States, (4)Strong Mountain Productions, Corte Madera, CA, United States, (5)Independent Illustrator, Eugene, OR, United States
Sub-seafloor microbiology has the power to spark the imaginations of children, students and the general public with its mysterious nature, cutting-edge research, and connections to the search for extraterrestrial life. These factors have been utilized to create a number of educational and outreach products to bring subsurface microbes to non-scientist audiences in creative and innovative ways. The Adopt a Microbe curriculum for middle school students provides hands-on activities and investigations for students to learn about microbes and the on-going research about them, and provides opportunities to connect with active expeditions. A new series of videos engages non-scientists with stories about research expeditions and the scientists themselves. A poster and associated activities explore the nature of science using a microbiologist and her research as examples. A new e-book for young children will engage them with age-appropriate text and illustrations. These projects are multidisciplinary, involve science and engineering practices, are available to all audiences and provide examples of high level and meaningful partnerships between scientists and educators and the kinds of products that can result. Subseafloor microbiology projects such as these, aimed at K-12 students and the general public, have the potential to entice the interest of the next generation of microbe scientists and increase general awareness of this important science.