2010 Annual Science Report

Pennsylvania State University Reporting  |  SEP 2009 – AUG 2010

EPO Activity: EPO: Outreach Activities Surrounding the "Beyond the Edge of the Sea" Art Exhibit

Project Progress

In 2010 the Penn State Astrobiology Research Center and the Penn State Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) Museum and Art Gallery hosted the “Beyond the Edge of the Sea” art exhibit developed by the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary.

Beyond the Edge of the Sea is an exhibition guest curated by Dr. Cindy Lee Van Dover, a deep-sea explorer and U.S. Navy-qualified pilot of the deep-diving submersible Alvin. The exhibition highlights work by scientific illustrator Karen Jacobsen, who accompanied Dr. Van Dover on many expeditions to deep-sea locations across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Over 70 works selected from Jacobsen’s sketchbooks and five specially commissioned pieces were created for this traveling exhibition.The EMS Museum staff developed a related exhibit entitled “Life After Dark”, which was presented simultaneously with the main exhibit from February through October 2010.

Many outreach events were held in the museum gallery including a 1-day K-12 in-service educator workshop, public talks by Dr. Van Dover and Ms. Jacobsen, and Dr. Chuck Fisher from Penn State, and movie events for the general public.

The gallery grand opening was held on February 28th and more than 100 people attended the event on a Sunday afternoon.

In March, Dr. Van Dover and Ms. Jacobsen visited Penn State. On Thursday, March 25th they met with astrobiology higher education students, then on Friday the 26th they gave a presentation at a local middle school to more than 270 6th graders. Both Cindy and Karen talked about their professions and showed both live pictures and illustrations of their deep-sea research. After the presentation, Karen and Cindy gave the students the opportunity to ask questions. More than 50 hands shot up into the air once they opened the floor. Many students were curious about the logistics of diving in Alvin (air supply, bathrooms, field of vision), still others had questions about the extreme creatures themselves and the illustrations. When asked if any of them would like to do this type of work, more than half of the students raised their hands. There was lots of curiosity and enthusiasm about the presentation. Friday evening Cindy and Karen gave a similar but much more in depth presentation to the general public in the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum. More than 40 people participated in the event which included a 45 minute presentation and 20 minute Q&A session. Many of the participants commented on how interesting the talk was and more than half stayed to talk to Karen and Cindy personally while viewing the art exhibit in the gallery. On Saturday, March 27th the day began with more than 20 educators arriving for a professional development workshop entitled The Art of Science: Observing Life in Extremes. The workshop was funded with astrobiology EPO support and was coordinated and carried out by Leah Bug from the Center for Science and the Schools and Liz Goehring of the Ridge 2000 Project. The overarching theme was scientific observation and deep sea biodiversity. Leah and Liz, along with the expertise of Cindy and Karen, provided activities and content related to their deep-sea research and resulting artwork. The workshop was standards based and incorporated professional development best practices and inquiry-based learning. The educators were also provided with a large amount of materials to utilize in their classroom, including activities from the Life on Earth and Elsewhere Educator Resource Guide, illustrations, posters and books on deep-sea research and astrobiology.

During the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in July, we opened the exhibit during Saturday and Sunday (off hours) and offered showings of two related movies; “Aliens of the Deep” and “Volcanoes of the Deep Sea” to encourage the public to view the exhibit and related educational materials.