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UMass Dartmouth / New Bedford Oceanarium Announce Partnership to Inspire K-12 Students

UMass Dartmouth and the New Bedford Oceanarium ( today announced a major partnership designed to enhance science education in the region and across the Commonwealth.

Under the agreement, UMass Dartmouth ( will invest faculty, student and staff talent in the School of Marine Science and Technology and the new School of Education, Public Policy and Civic Engagement, as well as significant financial resources, in the Ocean Explorium. The goal of the investement is to excite K-12 students about education -- especially science and math subjects -- and inspire them to stay in school and set their sights on college.

"UMass Dartmouth believes that its educational programs, physical and technological assets, and its intellectual capital are rich resources meant to be shared actively with our region and Commonwealth,'' UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. "We believe the Ocean Explorium has the ability to inspire young people to engage in a life of learning and discovery and that our investment in this cause will pay huge dividends to both society and our university in the years ahead."

Robert Feingold, chairman of the board of the New Bedford Oceanarium, which oversees the Explorium, said this partnership is a milestone event. "The Southcoast is, and has always been, fundamentally connected to the ocean,'' he said.  "Our partnership with the University assures that the Ocean Explorium will use state of the art technology and superbly trained professionals in an elegant historic venue to help our citizens, near and far, better explore, understand and care for our oceans. We are deeply grateful to the many people who have supported our vision as it has evolved and especially to Chancellor MacCormack  for sharing, helping to shape and to make that vision a reality."

In an effort to bring science downtown, as the University has previously brought the arts downtown to the Star Store, UMass Dartmouth has located its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  "Science on a Sphere®"  (SOS) technology at the Ocean Explorium, and has agreed to support related programs, staff, and exhibits.

The SOS is a revolutionary new display that uses high-speed computers, multiple projectors and advanced imaging techniques to create a 3D image of the planet. Upon this 3-D image of the earth a large number of scientific data sets--both historic and real-time--can be graphically displayed, clearly demonstrating important environmental issues on a global scale (e.g., climate change, ocean currents, weather patterns, dispersion of potential contaminants, etc.). Time Magazine called Science on a Sphere®" of the top ten inventions of 2006."

UMass Dartmouth will also assign a full-time education coordinator from the School of Education, Public Policy and Civic Engagement to work as part of the NBO team on school-related and public educational programs.  Additionally, UMass Dartmouth will designate two representatives to be members of the New Bedford Oceanarium Board of Governors.

The New Bedford Oceanarium will be responsible for providing secure exhibit space at its 174 Union Street location and for the infrastructure that supports the Science on a Sphere® technology. The NBO will also provide internship and co-op opportunities to University undergraduate and graduate students in the environmental, marine sciences and technologies, and science/math education programs.  These internships may be paid or unpaid as determined by the partners.

The University and Oceanarium will jointly share in the cost of developing new technology programs related to the Science on a Sphere® in partnership with NOAA; and share the cost of the executive director of the SOS program.
UMass Dartmouth and NBO will also jointly seek philanthropic and grant funds to support programs of mutual interest.

"The new partnership between UMass Dartmouth and the New Bedford Ocean Explorium is another great addition to a thriving downtown. These two institutions play an integral role in maintaining the educational health of the South Coast, and I look forward to their collaboration," said state Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, whose district includes both the UMass Dartmouth campus and the Ocean Explorium.

"The Ocean Explorium will create new opportunities for our students to improve their science and math skills which are so critical to their futures.  I applaud UMass Dartmouth for investing in our children," said state Rep. Antonio Cabral, D-New Bedford, whose district includes the Ocean Explorium.

"This agreement represents a major investment in the future of the region and the children of the Commonwealth,'' said state Rep. John Quinn, D-Dartmouth, whose district also includes the UMass Dartmouth campus. "Inspiring young people to study hard and go to college is an important matter of economic security for individuals and communities. I commend the University and the Oceanarium for the visionary leadership they are demonstrating today.''

This is the latest in a series of tangible, transformative investments that UMass Dartmouth has made in the cities of New Bedford and Fall River. Past investments have included the School for Marine Science and Technology, downtown Star Store arts center, and a downtown continuing education center in New Bedford; and the Advanced Technology Manufacturing Center and downtown continuing education center in Fall River. Planning is also underway to construct a UMass bio-manufacturing center in Fall River.

Author:  "John Hoey"
Date:  04-Sep-2008
Department:   News & Public Information

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