In July 2019, Plymouth City Council, with whom the Secretariat had worked closely on the SoNoAT schools outreach project, invited POGO to present at the Plymouth STEM Conference – an annual gathering of the local STEM research, industry and education community. The POGO Scientific Coordinator and Communications Officer talked about the training which took place on board Polarstern, the early (pre-publication) findings of the scientists on board, and the international outreach work with schools in the UK, Germany, Japan, Ireland and Brazil. In addition to ‘live’ Skype calls between the students and scientists on board the ship, school children in Plymouth had taken part in a design competition whereby decorated polystyrene foam cups were sent on the expedition to be used in a demonstration of deep ocean pressure. The winning cups, which travelled to the equatorial ocean floor (a depth of 3500m at that point), together with certificates and Polarstern mementoes, were publicly presented to their designers during the STEM conference, fascinating both children and adults alike with the ‘shrinking/crushing’ effects of pressure in the deep ocean.

In parallel with the STEM conference, POGO also took part in the Plymouth Big Splash interactive STEM event, where we ran an activity base in conjunction with Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Over two days, around 600 school children visited our stand, and carried out a ‘hands-on’ demonstration of deep ocean pressure using marshmallows and syringes, before being shown one of the shrunken polystyrene foam cups from SoNoAT. Many of these children had also participated in the schools outreach project and skype calls. Other activities included a hands-on session on algae/seaweed identification, looking at plankton samples through a microscope, and a show-and-tell about ‘life on board a research vessel’. We were also able to borrow a model drone from the National Oceanography Centre, UK , for a demonstration in the pool.

16 July, 2019 – 17 July, 2019

Tinside Lido, Plymouth

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