For Immediate Release: Feb. 10, 2011
By Geoff S. Fein, Office of Naval Research
ARLINGTON, Va. - U.S. students are gaining hands-on experience operating a simulated submarine as part of an Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Team Submarine initiative to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
In 2011, the Navy will roll out the Mission Ocean program nationally to coincide with upcoming Virginia-class submarines' christening or commissioning. Enabling students to view the ceremonies and participate in Mission Ocean allows the Navy to invigorate interest in STEM at the pivotal fifth through eighth-grade level, Navy officials said.
ONR and the Program Executive Office (PEO) Submarines are planning a demonstration for schools in Mississippi to coincide with USS Mississippi's (SSN 782) christening in fall 2011. They have also met with representatives from the Minnesota Science Center about conducting a Mission Ocean program in parallel with USS Minnesota (SSN 783) christening scheduled for 2012.
"Mission Ocean allows students to learn about navigation, radar, search patterns and Earth sciences," said Dave Miskimens, director of undersea systems PEO subs. Students learn how to staff all seven stations on a submarine, including Officer of the Deck, propulsion, main ballast and navigation, enabling them to become proficient on each task.
"Students are learning to apply geometry and science in Mission Ocean," Miskimens said. "The course materials are designed for up to eighth grade, but we are looking to take this to the high school level." The students have access to seven laptops and a big-screen display, and the software is provided free. "The idea is to do this in addition to their regular science curriculum."
The Mission Ocean program was developed in 1997 by a team at Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, Ind. "The goal is to help elementary school teachers deliver STEM lessons through collaborative teaching methods based on a deep-sea submarine research and rescue simulation," said Dr. Anthony Junior, ONR education programs manager.
PEO Subs and ONR agreed to commit funding to develop a portable Web-based version of Mission Ocean. PEO Submarines also sponsored technologists from Purdue University to tour through a new Virginia-class submarine to formulate the control room functions for the submarine simulation.
ONR also funded the initial Mission Ocean rollout at the St. Louis Science Center. That event ran parallel with USS Missouri (SSN 780) christening in December 2009. "We had a live feed from the Missouri, and students interacted with the Sailors during the christening," Junior said.
The course has since expanded into 12 schools nationwide as part of their science curriculum. "ONR is the key to seeding Mission Ocean," Miskimens said.
STEM education has become a critical priority for ONR in its role as the U.S. Navy's science and technology provider. "One of our (the Navy's) biggest attractions is our assets," said Junior of ONR. "There is nothing like going on a ship, a carrier, submarine or aircraft; that is attractive to kids. We are able to tie in an asset with a STEM program."
About the Office of Naval Research
The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.