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Monday, November 08, 2021

NGI Produces Banner Sea Turtle Musical Outreach Program

Mississippi State University's Northern Gulf Institute and Theatre MSU in conjunction with the MS Aquarium and Dauphin Island Sea Lab presented "Banner: A Sea Turtle Saga", written by T.S. Hays with original music and lyrics by Aubrey Hays, Curtis McMurtry, Diane Burgess, with additional lyrics by Bella Bingham.
The cast of sea creature puppets pose on the McComas stage before a performance, including wearable puppet creatures such as turtles, a jellyfish, an octopus, and a bottlenose dolphin.
The cast of sea creature puppets pose on the McComas stage before a performance, including wearable puppet creatures such as turtles, a jellyfish, an octopus, and a bottlenose dolphin.

In addition to the attendees, the production and outreach program was covered by AP Newswire and many regional news programs. Performed as an educational program for local schools, the program reached an estimated 1200 elementary and middle school students, in addition to both national and international news coverage


Loosely based on one of Mississippi Aquarium's most beloved residents, Banner, Mississippi Aquarium's resident endangered green sea turtle. This outreach program consisted of multiple shows performed at MSU and the MS Aquarium and an educational curriculum based on marine science that was provided to regional educators.

The cast and crew were nominated for numerous Kennedy Center - American College Theatre Festival awards including Allied Design and Technologies - Prop and Puppets, Lighting Design, the Irene Ryan Acting Award, and Sound Design, as well as Faculty Certificates of Merit for Playwrighting, Directing, Scenic Design, Technical Direction, and Costuming.

Banner: A Sea Turtle Saga follows the journey of Banner, a green sea turtle who has just been released into the ocean after spending months in captivity, being nursed to health by marine biologists. He is released alongside two of his turtle friends: Drifter, a Kemp's-Ridley turtle, and Grub, a loggerhead turtle. Once in the ocean, he meets a party of colorful sea creatures, among them; Dart, the energetic bonnethead shark who does not eat meat, Finn, the courageous bottlenose dolphin and natural-born leader, Angel, the snobbish cownose ray who enjoys picking on others. However, something about Banner starts him off on the wrong fin: he loves humans! Informed by a fish named Magill, the crew are sent on a quest across the sea to find the highly regarded Immortal Jellyfish and to show Banner what has become of the ocean due to humanity's ever-growing pollution of the seas.

Banner and friends meet other friendly faces throughout their journey, such as the lovable Dumbo Octopus, Button, and the friendly Rice's Whale named Squirt. Their adventure teaches Banner about the dangers that animals face due to plastic pollution, oil spills and climate change.

The sea creatures' trip culminates with the long-awaited meeting of the Immortal Jellyfish. What awaits them at the journey's end? Does Banner change his belief about humans, or does his love for humanity cause his friends to re-think their beliefs?
Tied together with original music and professional puppetry, Banner: A Sea Turtle Saga engages audiences as an interactive, immersive, theatre experience. It shares the message of hope, that all of us can make a difference in saving our seas. Banner: A Sea Turtle Saga is sea-riffic!

News coverage for the show reached as far as Phuket Thailand and included the following outlets:

"Banner: A Sea Turtle Saga" – Msstate newsroom 11/4/2021
Republished in 6park.news/Mississippi 11/4/2021
Republished in Daily Times Leader (West Point) 11/10/2021
"MSU Theater department bringing conservation musical to Mississippi Aquarium" – Association of Zoos and Aquariums 11/16/2021
'Banner: A Sea Turtle Saga' premieres today – WXXV25 (Gulfport) 11/22/2021
Reposted on NewsBreak
"Sea turtle at Mississippi Aquarium inspires musical" – Associated Press News 11/27/2021
Republished in The Clay Center Dispatch (Kansas) 11/27/2021
Republished in the Columbus Dispatch 11/29/2021
Republished in Dothan Eagle (Alabama) 11/27/2021
Republished in Hasting Tribune (Hastings, NE) 11/27/2021
Republished in Huron Daily Tribune (Michigan) 11/27/2021
Republished in the Herald Review 11/27/2021
Republished in the Gazebo Gazette (West Harrison County) 11/27/2021
Republished in MySanAntonio (Texas) 11/27/2021
Republished in Manisteenews (Michigan) 11/27/2021
Republished on Flip Board via Miami Herald 11/28/2021
Republished in The Milford Mirror (Connecticut) 11/27/2021
Republished in Opera News 11/27/2021
Republished in Our Community Now (Wichita, KS) 11/27/2021
Republished in the Pioneer (Big Rapids, MI) 11/27/2021
Republished in The Telegraph (Illinois) 11/27/2021
Republished in US News 11/27/2021
Republished in Opelika-Auburn News (Alabama) 11/27/2021
Mentioned in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette 11/29/2021
USA Today news on 50 states, story for MS 12/01/2021
Republished in Phuketimes (Phuket, Thailand ?) 12/01/2021
Republished on Yahoo News 12/01/2021

Monday, November 08, 2021

MSU-SEAS Program Partnership continues with Mississippi Aquarium, March 5th, 2022

Mississippi State's Northern Gulf Institute will continue its partnership with the Mississippi Aquarium to turn the state's Gulf Coast into an outdoor laboratory, giving local middle and high school students new knowledge and appreciation for their connection with marine life and the environment. The next Program is Scheduled for March 5th, 2022.  Arrangements to attend can be made through the MS Aquarium website https://www.msaquarium.org/
MSU-SEAS Program Partnership continues

Through an innovative program, MSU-SEAS, or Science and Education at Sea, up to 30 public and homeschooled students will be able to experience a hands-on marine excursion, learning positive behavioral practices that promote sustainable choices in safeguarding the Gulf of Mexico's marine ecosystem.

"We believe an engaged and informed public is a great partner in the effort to protect the Gulf of Mexico's environment," said Jonathan Harris, Northern Gulf Institute outreach director. "By giving students access to this kind of learning, NGI and the Mississippi Aquarium is making its research relevant to the students who will become the stakeholders and citizens of the future."

Aboard Biloxi's Glenn L. Swetman oyster schooner, the sixth- through 12th-grade students and NGI faculty and staff sailed to the National Park Service Barrier Islands and anchored at Horn Island. There students were immersed in hands-on activities which included collection of marine scientific data, water quality samples and seafloor sediment, and identification of various marine species, as well as invasive aquatic plants.

Program organizers and education experts said another program priority is to practice one of the main tenets of modern educational theory, the concept of experiential learning, in which students are engaged when learn by doing.

Adam Skarke, an NGI researcher and MSU geosciences assistant professor, introduced the students to the many components of marine hydrogeology.

"The idea is that through exposure to real-life scientific sampling techniques and locally relevant lesson content, we can remove the shadow of classroom learning and spark an interest in the sciences that will impact not only their future educational choices, but also their life-long interest and hopefully their career pathways," he said.

MSU faculty and team members also serving as MSU-SEAS teachers include Jamie Dyer, an associate NGI director and professor of meteorology and climatology, and Gray Turnage, an NGI invasive aquatic species researcher and assistant extension professor. Instructors from the Mississippi Aquarium were Lauren Fuller, education program analyst, and Lizzie Whigham, lead education specialist.

NGI and the Mississippi Aquarium plan to offer the program twice a year to public and homeschooled students. Public school student participants in this first cohort were from Long Beach, Vancleave, Biloxi, Hattiesburg and New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Northern Gulf Institute, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Cooperative Institute managed by MSU, is a partnership of six complementary academic institutions and NOAA addressing important national strategic research and education goals. For more information, please visit www.ngi.msstate.edu.

The Mississippi Aquarium, a premier institution, delivers an awe-inspiring entertainment experience which supports animal research and conservation, inspires learning and instills a passion for the aquatic world. For more information, please visit https://www.msaquarium.org/.

For more information about the MSU-SEAS Program, please contact NGI Outreach Director Jonathan Harris at jharris@ngi.msstate.edu.

Monday, November 08, 2021

Education & Outreach Opportunities at NGI - Mississippi State

STEAM: Science Through the Arts

STEAM programs add art to the STEM curriculum by drawing on design principles and encouraging creative solutions. In 2013, a joint resolution was introduced in the United States House of Representatives expressing the sense that adding art and design into Federal programs that target the STEM fields encourages innovation and economic growth in the United States.

The Travelling Trunk Education & Outreach Program

NGI has developed loanable "Travelling Trunk Shows" which include Art and Science-based curriculum designed to support the national college and career readiness standards. We typically include the "science, literature and arts behind the scenes" that includes targeted classwork and lessons of discovery for oceanography, marine and fisheries science, and weather. These trunks provide STEAM-focused interaction with large numbers of schoolchildren, their parents, teachers, and administrators.

NGI Art and Design Competition

The Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) at Mississippi State University is proud to announce a STEAM art competition, where original drawings, paintings, photography, or other renderings, depicting the natural environment, marine, avian, or aquatic species, the ocean, or weather, as related to the Mississippi River, The Gulf Coast, or the Gulf of Mexico Basin, are to be submitted for review. The winner of the competition will have their art featured in the "Portal" Newsletter.

Continuing Education Opportunities

Computational Thinking with 3D Weather Teacher Workshop (Summer 2022). This Workshop is part of the 3D Weather project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop instructional materials for teaching computational thinking to K-12 students through explorations of atmospheric science and weather data using Unidata's Integrated Data Viewer (IDV). We will use IDV to create 3D weather visualizations from freely available, real-world weather data.

The objective of the 3D Weather project is to use meteorology and IDV to enable teachers to teach computational thinking skills to K-12. During the online portion of this workshop (July 5-11), you will learn background information for computational thinking and the meteorology topics we will discuss during the in-person workshop. During the in-person portion of this workshop (July 12-16), you will learn how to use IDV to visualize data for different meteorology topics and how to analyze the data using 11 computational thinking skills. Then, you will modify an existing lesson plans in order to incorporate computational thinking skills into the lesson.

This Workshop provides the requisite background information on computational thinking, meteorology topics, and IDV so that you can use 3D Weather visualizations to teach computational thinking to your students. (Earn up to 8 CEUs).

The Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) has joined with the Department of Geosciences and the Center for Distance Education at Mississippi State University to provide Continuing Education and/or 4 hours of Graduate College Credit to teachers and professionals wishing to undertake a 7-10 day geosciences field course. The course locations for this year are Bahamas (split undergrad/grad), Western WA, NY, and Great Plains Storm Chase. A science background is helpful to successfully complete these courses and costs $1250 plus tuition (4 hours of in-state graduate credit). (approximately $2978 total) Additionally, for most of the trips, the students pay for their meals, but the Bahamas trip includes meals. Students are also responsible for getting to the start location on their own (e.g Seattle, Nassau, Oklahoma City, etc.).

Visiting Scientists to your Classroom or Organization

The NGI can provide assistance in locating a guest speaker for your classroom or organization meeting to discuss various topics including Coastal Hazards, Geospatial Data Integration and Visualization, Ecosystem Management Climate Change, and use of UAV/AUVs in the environmental and agricultural sciences.


Lesson Plan Database

NGI along with the INSPIRE program is developing a database of approximately 500 Mississippi Science Curriculum-based lesson plans and assignments for k-12 classrooms. These will be linked to our website in the near future. Click Here for Lesson Plans: http://gk12.msstate.edu/lessonplans.html

For More information please contact the Education & Outreach Office at EandO@ngi.msstate.edu

Monday, November 08, 2021

Available - Marine Science Curriculum

Students' engagement with science that connects with something that is relevant in their lives can increase the meaningfulness of science application and help solidify its importance. With that goal in mind, outreach coordinators and researchers with the Consortium for Ocean-Microbial Interactions in the Ocean (CSOMIO) developed a middle school science curriculum "Modeling the Gulf of Mexico" based on their efforts to improve oil transport and fate modeling. The curriculum targets students living in Florida and other Gulf states and introduces them to science that impacts their own lives.

"Our scientific team is working to produce a comprehensive framework for simulating and understanding the role that microbes play in mitigating the impacts of oil spills, so the topics covered in this curriculum align with that research," said CSOMIO principal investigator Dr. Eric Chassignet.

The curriculum contains five complete lessons: "Go with the Flow," "Oil Remediation," "Visualizing Ocean Currents," "The Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem," and "Refining an Ocean Model." Each lesson includes materials such as teacher guides, student worksheets, maps (courtesy of Ocean Conservancy), and answer keys with grading rubrics.

The CSOMIO outreach team collaborated with educators to design lesson plans and activities that meet the Florida State Board of Education's Standards for Science to ensure that the materials are easily used in Florida classrooms. The curriculum follows the instructional model, in which each represents a different phase of the learning process: Engage (grab students interest), Explore (students self-study the material), Explain (students become more familiar with the material with teacher guidance), Elaborate (students apply what they learned), and Evaluate (students demonstrate their understanding of the material).

The CSOMIO outreach coordinators field-tested the lesson plans through collaboration with Florida State University's Sea-to-See program, which introduces students to Florida's diverse marine life and promotes the importance of conservation. The curriculum also includes an Accommodations section in the appendices that offer vocabulary, modified questions, and alternate procedures for each lesson. These accommodations are designed to assist students who require a 504 Plan, an Individualized Education Plan, or who are learning English as a second language.

"Our intent was to provide practical lessons that can help make the complex world of computer modeling more approachable to middle grades students," said CSOMIO science educator Karolyn Burns. "Ultimately, the feedback from both practicing teachers and oceanographic researchers was invaluable, and I hope that it proves useful to educators, as well as engaging for learners."

"This middle school curriculum complements a high school science curriculum released in 2015 by the Deep Sea to Coast Connectivity in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico (Deep-C) consortium", said Tracy Ippolito, who coordinated outreach for both Deep-C and CSOMIO. The Deep-C team compiled and developed the 144-page multi-disciplinary high school curriculum around the five main research areas of its consortium (geomorphology, geochemistry, ecology, physical oceanography, and modeling) and draws connections between science and real-world applications for handling issues such as environmental disasters, their ecosystem impacts, and recovery.

A downloadable PDF version of the CSOMIO middle school science curriculum is available at CSOMIO MS Curriculum.
A downloadable PDF version of the CSOMIO high school science curriculum is available at CSOMIO HS Curriculum

By Stephanie Ellis and Nilde Maggie Dannreuther. Contact sellis@ngi.msstate.edu for questions or comments.


The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization, and remediation technologies. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness, and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings, and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP. For more information, visit http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/.

Copyright 2010-2020 Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) - All Rights Reserved. Redistribution is encouraged with acknowledgment to the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). Please credit images and/or videos as done in each article. Questions? Contact web-content editor Nilde "Maggie" Dannreuther, Northern Gulf Institute, Mississippi State University (maggied@ngi.msstate.edu).