The expedition, which begins Saturday, November 29, will continue through Sunday, December 21, with researchers aboard the 274-foot research vessel Atlantis. Researchers will use the submersible Alvin to reach hydrothermal vents nearly two miles deep to study the creatures that inhabit the scalding hot water surrounding the vents.
Said Lisa Rom, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s ocean education program, which funded the research, "We are delighted that so many students have taken advantage of the opportunity to shadow oceanographers and learn what goes on during a research cruise with all the excitement and sometimes disappointment of exploring a place that is so remarkable. We hope that these students never lose that sense of excitement about science, and that they learn that a scientist's real work is to explore the unknown."
Students around the world have an opportunity to participate in this unique educational experience through an interactive web site, printed curriculum, video documentary and evaluation materials.
One of the highlights will be conference telephone calls between selected classrooms and scientists working live aboard the submersible Alvin. Other students will have access to the scientists via e-mail and an expedition web site at http://www.ocean.udel.edu/extreme2003/.
"This project is about getting students excited about science," said Craig Cary, University of Delaware (UD) biologist and chief scientist on the expedition. "We want to introduce students to one of the most fascinating habitats on the planet and engage them in the thrill of discovery."