URI, Immersion Learning to host live webcasts about Arctic marine mammals, Feb 10-12

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Rhode Island students can interact with scientists; public can attend sessions at URI

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – January 27, 2010 – The University of Rhode Island’s Office of Marine Programs and Immersion Learning, a division of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., will bring the Arctic world into the classroom live via a series of 30-minute webcasts to students throughout Rhode Island Feb. 10 to 12.

URI’s Coastal Institute Auditorium on the Narragansett Bay Campus will also be open free to the public to view the live webcasts on Feb. 11 at 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. and on Feb. 12 at 11 a.m., noon, 1, 2 and 3 p.m.

During the three days of the Marine Mammals of the Arctic webcasts, students will have the opportunity to interact directly with scientists and trainers who work with marine mammals to better understand their behaviors and physiology, as well as to learn about the impact of humans and climate change on these animals. All students in classrooms and after-school groups across the United States, Mexico and Canada will be able to participate in an online question-and-answer session and polling features as they hear from these experts and learn how they can help protect the oceans.

The programs will feature polar bear research, seal rescue and rehabilitation efforts, satellite tagging and population surveys of ringed seals, and a beluga whale collaboration between Alaskans and researchers, including one based at Mystic Aquarium. Viewers will also meet the three winners of Immersion’s first Goldfish Training Contest, who will each serve as an “apprentice trainer” during one day of webcasts and work closely with Mystic Aquarium’s beluga whales and trainers.

“Sea Research Foundation is devoted to protecting our ocean planet, and the Arctic is currently one of the most threatened places,” said Stephen M. Coan, president and chief executive officer of Sea Research Foundation. “In providing kids an up-close look at these amazing animals and the dangers they are facing, we hope to inspire them to become ambassadors for the Arctic regions and beyond.”

The live webcast complements Immersion’s Marine Mammals of the Arctic multimedia program, developed for students in grades 4 through 8 and designed to inspire them to be part of the world of marine science and conservation by helping to protect marine mammals and their ocean home. Program elements include hands-on activities, lesson plans, online games, projects, videos and career profiles, for use in schools and after-school settings.

The live webcasts, a detailed webcast program guide and program resources are available at immersionlearning.org.