Nearly two decades after he first discovered the sunken wreck of the Titanic, Dr. Robert Ballard, president of the Institute for Exploration at Mystic Aquarium and an Explorer-in-Residence at National Geographic, is making another journey to the bottom of the Atlantic to investigate the factors hastening the ship’s deterioration–and he’s bringing students along for the expedition. From May 27 to June 12, students and teachers can link to any of five partner web sites from the expedition’s main site, each taking a different look at the expedition and allowing users to experience and interact with this historic event in various ways.

At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean Exploration web site ( http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov), students can get an in-depth look at the expedition vessel Ronald H. Brown, access inquiry-based lesson plans, or learn more about the NOAA science party.

Web explorers visiting the National Geographic Channel web site ( http://www.nationalgeographic.com/channel/titanic) will find daily dispatches from the expedition written by Mike Sweeney, co-author with Robert Ballard of the upcoming book, Return to Titanic. Visit each day to view a photo gallery of images from the ship, interactive features, and a preview of the June 7th broadcast special Return to Titanic, featuring a live telecast from Titanic’s watery grave, some 12,000 feet under the Atlantic Ocean. As an added bonus, students and teachers can sign up for daily eMail expedition dispatches to be sent directly to their computer.

At the JASON Foundation for Education web site http://www.jason.org/returntotitanic), real-time, behind-the-scenes access will include (a) the “Ship’s Log,” a streaming video daily diary of the researchers and crew members at work; (b) a daily slideshow showing the research and progress of the expedition; (c) “Math Adventure: Geometry and Return to Titanic,” describing JASON’s new middle-school curriculum, which tells the story of the return to Titanic by relating the expedition events, as they happen, to mathematics; (d) “Did You Know?,” questions from teachers and students, and answers from researchers; and (e) “Kid’s Corner,” interactive activities and exercises that enable students to plot the research ship’s location as it travels to and from the Titanic. Administrators and teachers also may enter a free raffle to win a “telepresence” webcast for their school.

At least 150,000 students will take a virtual summer vacation during the expedition through the Immersion Project’s “Titanic Live!” These lucky kids, housed at Immersion Project sites at 135 Boys & Girls Clubs and 15 aquariums, museums, science centers, and school systems across the U.S., will see four shows a day broadcast live from the Titanic via Internet 2, satellite, or on a gated Internet 1 site at the Mystic Aquarium web site ( http://www.mysticaquarium.org). Those at Immersion Project sites with satellite or Internet 2 access can talk directly to Dr.Ballard about the expedition. All will learn what it’s like to be forensic scientists through Titanic Live!’s interactive games, puzzles, and stories designed to help them reach their own conclusions about what caused the Titanic’s deterioration.

At the University of Rhode Island’s web site ( http://www.uri.edu/news/ballard), visitors to Dr. Ballard’s academic and research home will find information about the university’s new Institute for Archaeological Oceanography, the first program of its kind, and URI’s Inner Space Center, created and directed by Dr. Ballard. The site will provide links to the university’s Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) for information about the rigorous academic programs that lead to careers in oceanography. Visitors also can explore some of the steps, from elementary through high school and college, that may lead one to become an ocean explorer. Elementary and secondary school teachers also will find links to the university’s Office of Marine Programs for valuable classroom activities and interactive materials to inspire and encourage their students–and for continuing education options for themselves as well.

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