Setting Sail on the Seas of Imagination – How Hands-On Experiences Can Change Everything

June 1, 2017

One of AltaSea’s most high-profile partnerships the past year has been with the Ocean Exploration Trust, whose E/V Nautilus ship spent the winter docked at our wharf in the Port of Los Angeles.

The Nautilus, the undersea-exploration vessel whose recent discoveries include the wreckage of such famous ships at the German WWII battleship Bismarck and John F. Kennedy’s patrol boat PT-109, hosted dozens of students on tours during the months it was docked with AltaSea. In early May, the ship embarked on a new six-month expedition, but not before it changed the lives of many student visitors.

Those tours are a crucial part of our joint efforts to inspire the young to pursue more education in STEM-related subjects and careers, particularly connected with the ocean. Ultimately, even if these students don’t themselves become researchers and entrepreneurs focused on sustainable ocean-related science and industry, they will become better environmental stewards of one of our most vital resources here at the gateway to the Pacific.  The 2017 educational tours have been supported by AltaSea’s LA2050 grant funded by the Goldhirsh Foundation.

Photo by Ed McNichol

Among those touring the Nautilus recently was Kelly Yoshimura, a 12-year-old seventh grader from nearby Richard Henry Dana Middle School in San Pedro. Kelly, who is also news editor of her school’s The Dana Mariner newspaper, was so enthralled by a field trip to the Nautilus with 120 of her classmates that she wrote this delightful story:

Inspiration and Fun Down at AltaSea

By: Kelly Yoshimura

On May 8, 7th grade STEAM Magnet students from Dana Middle School were given the   opportunity to go on a tour of AltaSea. Since Dana Middle School is so close by to the boat, we decided to walk there, saving both money and the environment from bus fumes.

At first, we thought we would see a sail boat ship, like the first time we went on a field trip for top sailing. So seeing such a large vessel came as a huge shock. We later found out that the ship’s purpose was to observe wildlife and research the ocean.

The ship’s crew consisted of scientists and the actual crew, who manned the ship. Many of us were intrigued by the diversity of the scientists, as well as the actual field that they worked in. Currently, we are learning about pollution in the ocean, so it related to the topics we’ve discussed extensively in class.

Some of the most intriguing parts of this field trip were the stories that the scientists told about some of their most treasured finds. Many of my peers are now thinking about becoming marine biologists, or their interests grew even more in the field of marine biology and oceanography.

Photo by Ed McNichol

Kelly’s short story says a lot about the power of hands-on experiences with inspiring scientists and organizations such as the Nautilus. Seeing a diverse and engaged group of researchers close up can help children consider new possibilities for building their own careers and lives.

It’s particularly appropriate that the students came from Dana Middle School, named after one of the pre-eminent writers about life on the high seas, Richard Henry Dana Jr., best known for his sailing memoir “Two Years Before the Mast.”

Just as importantly, Dana later became a lawyer and stalwart defender of the downtrodden, from sailors to fugitive slaves and freedmen. The Orange County city of Dana Point is named after Dana, whose dangerous sailing trips, around Cape Horn brought him up and down the California coast at a time when it was still part of Mexico.

“Two Years Before the Mast” informed and inspired many, including “Moby-Dick” writer Herman Melville, about the majesty, mystery and power of the ocean. Now, AltaSea and its partners are working to do the same for a new generation of great and impressionable young minds, building a better future for us all.

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