Ten Outstanding Education Products Six Years After Deepwater Horizon

Students construct their own drifter after being inspired by “Bob the Drifter”. (Provided by: Jenny Harter)

(Click to enlarge) Students construct their own drifter after being inspired by “Bob the Drifter”. (Provided by: Jenny Harter)

Communicating oil spill research is essential to improve society’s understanding about spills and their ability to respond to and mitigate them. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) has been funding spill-related research since 2010.

Here are ten outstanding education products and resources that GoMRI and its science community have developed to share what they are learning, doing, and how they are preparing the next generation of scientists for future spill research.

Products You Can Watch…

“Film provides an opportunity to marry the power of ideas with the power of images.”
— Steven Bochco, television writer and producer

  1. Award-winning short films for young audiences “Drones at the Beach” and “Bob the Drifter” use easy-to-understand language and imagery to explain two technologies that scientists use to track an oil slick as it moves with ocean currents towards beaches.
  1. Syndicated outdoors program Gary Finch Outdoors, in partnership with Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC), produced over a dozen short videos highlighting deep-sea research. The videos comprise the Research Video Series and contributed to the E/V Nautilus 2014 Cruise Videos and the Tools of the Trade series.
  1. The Screenscope film production company developed the documentary Dispatches from the Gulf, narrated by Matt Damon, as an episode of the award-winning series Journey to Planet Earth. The film is available for screenings. Screenscope is offering two live streaming events of the film on April 20, 2016, at 2 pm and 7 pm EST to mark the Deepwater Horizon’s sixth anniversary.
  1. The short film “Deciphering Oil Spill Impacts in Louisiana Wetlands” describes GoMRI-funded research on the chemical evolution, biological degradation, and environmental stresses of oil on Louisiana wetlands.


Products You Can Hear…

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”
— Robert McKee, writer

  1. The Loop: Stories from the Gulf is a podcast series produced by David Levin and Ari Daniel Shapiro that takes listeners under the sea, into the mud, and back to the lab to explore ongoing research. There are currently eight episodes of The Loop available for streaming including:

    The Pressure Is On: In “Under Pressure”, German scientists modeled the Deepwater Horizon blowout in a tank that can simulate the water pressure level of the blowout depth to track the oil’s movement and better understand oil dynamics at extreme depths.

“Under Pressure”:

Seeking New Insights from Decades-Old Spill: In “The Gulf’s Big Blowouts” and “Return to Ixtoc”, an international team of researchers hoping to predict how Deepwater Horizon may impact the Gulf decades into the future set out to study a spill of the past – the 1979 Ixtoc I blowout.

“The Gulf’s Big Blowouts”:

“Return to Ixtoc”:

Products for the Classroom…

“The one exclusive sign of thorough knowledge is the power of teaching.”
— Aristotle

  1. The multidisciplinary high school curriculum developed by Deep-C draws connections between the theoretical nature of science and real-world applications and addresses issues such as environmental disasters, their impacts on ocean ecosystems, and nature’s recovery mechanisms. Each of the curriculum’s five modules focuses on a main research area (geomorphology, geochemistry, ecology, physical oceanography, and modeling) and includes five cumulative lessons, background information on the topic, relevant supplementary reading materials, a glossary, and an assessment.
  1. Free downloadable lesson plans and teaching materials bring deep sea and oil spill research to the classroom. DEEPEND has created lesson plans for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 that cover deep sea topics ranging from bioluminescence to topography and include curricula, experiment instructions, and coloring sheets. Several of CWC’s K-12 Science Classroom Activities, which include lesson plans and fun, science-based activities covering a wide range of oil spill science topics, have been translated into Spanish to reach a broader, more-diverse audience.

Products You Can Explore…

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
— Marcel Proust, novelist

  1. The Smithsonian Ocean Portal is an online complement to the Sant Ocean Hall in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Pieces they have developed include research stories, interactive infographics, blog posts, interviews with GoMRI scientists, and more.
  1. Student Stories highlights some outstanding graduate students to inspire future generations of scientists. Each story describes individual students’ journeys into oil spill research, their current research, and hopes for the future.
  1. The Sea Grant oil spill outreach team creates short brochures that answer coastal audiences’ top questions about the oil spill including fisheries, oiled beaches, and dispersants. These brochures synthesize peer-reviewed oil spill science for a broad range of general audiences, particularly those whose livelihoods depend on a healthy Gulf.


This research was made possible in part by a grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) to the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE), Ecosystem Impacts of Oil and Gas Inputs to the Gulf (ECOGIG) Consortium, the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE I and C-IMAGE II), the Deepsea to Coast Connectivity in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico (Deep-C) Consortium, the Deep-Pelagic Nekton Dynamics of the Gulf of Mexico (DEEPEND) Consortium, and the Coastal Waters Consortium (CWC).

Dispatches from the Gulf is made possible in part by a grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).

GoMRI and the Sea Grant programs of the Gulf of Mexico (Florida, Mississippi-Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas) have partnered to create an oil spill science outreach program.

GoMRI and the Smithsonian have a partnership to enhance oil spill science content on the Ocean Portal website.

The 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 https://gulfresearchinitiative.org/.

© Copyright 2010- 2017 Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) – All Rights Reserved. Redistribution is encouraged with acknowledgement 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).