Ballard and Students to Explore California Seas, Coast

George Stuteville
for National Geographic News
January 27, 2003

Students all over the world will have a chance in coming weeks to meet pinnipeds, watch the flights of Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and learn the ancient ways of the Chumash culture.

It all sounds like fantastic scenes from Star Wars, but they are in fact on the agenda for this year's JASON Project, an expedition that take students and teachers on the ultimate field trip, allowing them to conduct field work, participate in experiments, and communicate with scientists in real time using satellites and Internet technology.

JASON Project founder Robert Ballard and an expedition team of scientists, teachers, and students are exploring California's Channel Islands, bringing their research to millions of students joining via satellite, the Web, and the National Geographic Channel.

The area being explored includes the Channel Islands National Park, the waters of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, and the densely populated California coastline.

Teachers and students participating in the project take part in an online community that provides the opportunity for online chats with researchers, online journals, digital labs, and more. They may also bring the live two-week expedition broadcast into the classroom by utilizing satellite equipment or the Internet.

Details for Web participation may be found on the JASON project's Web site.

Live telecasts of this year's JASON Project will also begin Tuesday, January 28 in Grosvenor Auditorium at the National Geographic Society's world headquarters in Washington, D.C.

JASON Project XIV: From Shore to Sea will be televised in the United States on the National Geographic Channel from January 27 to February 1 and February 3 to 7 from 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Twenty-eight student explorers and eight teachers from around the world have joined Ballard, who is also a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, on the JASON expedition in Southern California.

JASON Project XIV: From Shore to Sea will explore the fragile kelp forests and other marine and terrestrial ecosystems found in and around the Channel Islands. "The Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary will serve as laboratories for studying the extraordinary biology and incredible human history of the islands, including the culture of the native Chumash, colonization, and the human impact on this resource-rich maritime environment," said Andy van Duym, the director of business development and national programs for the National Geographic Society's Lectures and Public Programs.

Ballard, the discoverer of the RMS Titanic and PT-109, will help lead the daily journeys for the international Internet and television audiences.

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