Boy Scouts of America’s STEM Initiative Sends Scout to the Black Sea With Dr. Robert Ballard’s Expedition Team
One hundred years after the Titanic sank to the bottom of the ocean, Dr. Robert Ballard, a Life Scout and a world renowned oceanographer responsible for discovering the legendary ship, has invited an Eagle Scout and future leader in marine archaeology to explore the mysteries of the Black Sea. Alex Overman, an Old Dominion graduate from Hamilton, Va., has been selected as the Eagle Scout Argonaut to accompany Dr. Ballard’s team aboard Exploration Vessel Nautilus from July 24–26. The opportunity has been made available through the National Eagle Scout Association, the Boy Scouts of America’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) initiative, and Ballard’s JASON Project.
The JASON Project, managed by National Geographic Society and Sea Research Foundation, was founded by Ballard and is an internationally acclaimed, exploration-based program that links students—inside the classroom and out—to real science and scientists through technology intensive, inquiry-based curricular experiences. JASON’s National Argonaut program has provided hands-on, scientific fieldwork to more than 400 competitively selected students worldwide.
Overman was awarded the scholarship for his interest and university studies in oceanography, his commitment to a career in the industry, and for his short essay explaining why he should be selected as the Eagle Scout Argonaut. NESA and the BSA sponsored the trip in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scout Award and in keeping with the organization’s focus on the importance of incorporating STEM into its current advancement programs.
Before joining the expedition in Istanbul, Turkey, Overman will travel to Rhode Island and Connecticut to tour the University of Rhode Island’s Inner Space Center and Mystic Aquarium’s Ocean Exploration Center, both facilities that Ballard uses in his work. Overman will act as a mentor to the two high school-aged Argonauts on the trip, which is in line with the JASON Project’s and BSA’s goal of promoting the sciences among high school-aged youth.
“We are thrilled to welcome Alex aboard the E/V Nautilus this summer,” said Ballard. “His experience and commitment to STEM education will be an asset to the expedition team and his fellow Argonauts. As a Life Scout myself, I look forward to future collaborations with the JASON Project and Boy Scouts of America’s STEM initiative that prepare the great scientists and explorers of tomorrow.”
The STEM initiative gives Scouts an opportunity to explore relevant occupations and experiences with the aim of helping them develop a skill set critical for the competitive world market. In addition to opportunities like the Black Sea expedition, the BSA has launched the NOVA Award program, a new initiative that encourages all Scouts to explore the STEM fields. It leverages interactive learning opportunities ranging from exploring the engineering of roller coasters to finding the trajectory of a true Scouting staple, the bow and arrow.
“The Boy Scouts of America is known for teaching survival skills. Today, STEM is a survival skill,” said Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America. “The BSA has a long-standing commitment to preparing young people for success. We help them learn beyond the classroom in ways that are unique, interactive, and a whole lot of fun.”
“Earning my Oceanography [merit] badge through Scouting and participating in a 100-day sea voyage with the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy fueled my passion for studying the sea,” said Overman. “I can think of no better opportunity than to learn from Dr. Ballard’s team and I look forward to kicking off my career with this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
People worldwide can experience the next generation of deep-sea exploration 24 hours a day at nautiluslive.org. Overman will participate in a live webcast on July 25 from the E/V Nautilus. Visit jason.org for more information and to tune in.