Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dolphin Research Center Wins First Prize with Ocean 180

Middle school students in over 1,600 classrooms around the world spent the past two months carefully evaluating and judging the 10 video finalists submitted to the 2015 Ocean 180 Video Challenge. Student judges thoughtfully critiqued each entry and ultimately determined which 3 minute video abstracts best explained the results and significance of the scientists’ research. Ballots cast from 336 schools revealed the top 4 entries, each of which will be awarded a portion of a $9,000 prize package to honor their work in communicating science to the public.

Dolphin Research Center's Blindfoded Imitation I study.

This year’s two first place films, Dolphin Research Center Blindfold Imitation Study led by Dr. Kelly Jaakkola at the Dolphin Research Center and Drones at the Beach led by Patrick Rynne at the University of Miami, were singled out by students for being innovative, creative, and thought provoking. Rounding out the winning submissions was second place entry How to Treat a Bruised Flipper: Developing Pain Medications for Dolphins from Dr. Claire Simeone at The Marine Mammal Center and third place entry Rescuing the Gentle Giants led by Charles Waters at the University of Auckland, Institute of Marine Science.

Participating scientists were motivated by more than just the prize money. First place winner Dr. Jaakkola saw Ocean 180 as a chance to make her mark on the next generation of ocean scientists. "For a lot of students, science can have a negative, scary image. They picture people in white lab coats talking about topics that nobody understands in the most boring, unimaginative way possible,” explained Dr. Jaakkola. “If we want to get kids excited about science, we need to change that image.”
Thanks to the videos created by this year’s finalists, the 37,795 student judges were exposed to a range of ocean science topics, from submarine volcanoes along the Oregon coast to fish migration in the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to sharing the results of recent research, the videos also described the importance and relevance of the research to society. Teachers around the world applauded the effort of the finalists to make connections between classroom lessons and the impact of scientific discoveries.

“Too often, students only see science in isolation with the benchmarks assigned to them, rather
than the real-world application of that learning,” said Kathryn Blysma, whose students at Dr.
John Long Middle School in Wesley Chapel, FL participated as judges. “Although our state
benchmarks are thorough in supporting key learning for our students, making connections
between classroom learning and the real-world is critical to being good stewards of our planet.”
Short films, like those submitted to Ocean 180, have become an increasingly popular tool for
presenting research to non-scientists in an engaging way. “For me, some of the most inspiring
science writing uses analogies, metaphors, and similes to communicate aspects of the scientific
process, particularly the relevance of results,” said third place winner Charles Waters. “Video
helps lift images from print and the message comes closer to being an experience for the
audience in contrast to a mere information stream.”

Using their video abstracts, the Ocean 180 Video Challenge provides scientists with a platform
to connect with a broad audience and offers an opportunity to practice translating the
importance and outcomes of their research to non-experts. As first place winner Patrick Rynne
explained, the ability to communicate scientific findings is an essential skill to develop. “At the
end of the day, most research is funded by the taxpayer,” said Mr. Rynne. “Although it is
critical that work go through the peer-review process such as technical journals and conference
proceedings, we also have a responsibility to deliver our findings in a digestible way to the
general public.”

See Dolphin Research Center's submission here.

Visit to learn more and to see a full list of finalists and participating

2015 Ocean 180 Video Challenge Winners:

1st Place (Amateur Category)
Drones at the Beach
Patrick Rynne, University of Miami
Fiona Graham, University of Miami/ Waterlust
Ronald Brouwer, Ad Reniers, and Matthieu de Schipper, Delft University
Jamie MacMahan, Naval Postgraduate School
Laura Bracken, University of Miami/ CARTHE

1st Place (Professional Category)
Dolphin Research Center Blindfold Imitation Study
Kelly Jaakkola, Emily Guarino, Mandy Rodriguez, and the Visual Communication Staff, Dolphin
Research Center

2nd Place
How to Treat a Bruised Flipper: Developing Pain Medications for Dolphins
Claire Simeone, The Marine Mammal Center

3rd Place
Rescuing the Gentle Giants
Charles Waters, University of Auckland, Institute of Marine Science
Scott Ewing
Richard Story, Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources
Mark J. Costello, University of Auckland