Patriot Teacher Embarks on Groundbreaking Ocean Expedition on E/V Nautilus

| June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments | Education

Cassandra Weathersbee, oceanography and earth science teacher at Patriot High School in Nokesville, Virginia, has been selected as a 2018 Science Communication Fellow and will sail aboard Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus during its 2018 expedition.

Weathersbee join the Corps of Exploration aboard E/V Nautilus last week as they explore the Cascadia Margin, located offshore Washington, Oregon, and northern California.

“It’s a long trip, but I’m ridiculously excited,” Weathersbee said. “It’s essentially a floating laboratory with satellite communication.”

Live feed from the E/V Nautilus feed, June 13, 2018 at 1 p.m.

Twenty-one educators and 18 students from North America have been selected from a competitive pool of applicants by the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) to participate at sea during the 2018 Nautilus Exploration Program expedition. They have been given the once in a life-time opportunity to work closely with renowned scientist and explore the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

Weatherbees said she is incredibly honored to have been selected for the team.

The Fellows are not only scientists but artists, authors, students, teachers, engineers and various maintenance professionals. A range of people “looking at the different perspectives,” said Weathersbee. One major goal of the expedition is to get as many people as possible excited about the world’s oceans.

OET, is a nonprofit founded by Dr. Robert Ballard in 2008. Ballard is best known for his discovery of the sunken Titanic and other historic vessels lost at she. This discovery exploration vessel will employee state-of-the-art rovers to explore the deep. They are equipped with video cameras and will project a live feed as well as collecting information for prosperity.

The broader mission of this expedition is to explore the ocean, seeking out new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, archaeology, physics, and chemistry while pushing the boundaries of STEAM education and technological innovation.

More specifically, Weatherbees says they will be looking at methane seeps and the role they may have on global warming. Methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but the world has little knowledge about the extent of its existence underwater and how it may affect the environment. This is unsurprising explained Weatherbees since we know so little about the world’s oceans and approximately 95% of it remains unexplored and not fully mapped.

It is an inclusive expedition. As members of the Corps of Exploration, educators and students will stand watch alongside scientists and engineers. Weatherbees, who will serve as Fellowship Communicator, will be at the center of the action as her role as communications fellow.

She will be conducting live interactions with shore-based audiences via Nautilus Live, a 24-hour web portal bringing expeditions from the field to future explorers on shore via telepresence technology at and via social media, such as the E/V Nautilus Twitter page.

She hopes that the live access to scientists working on new discoveries help science come alive for everyone, particularly young people. It’s not just the stuff of dusty old text books she explained. She invites them to witness first hand the real excitement on the part of the scientists and team.

“You can kind of hear them geeking-out when something new and cool happen,” she said.

When they return home, fellows for the Nautilus Corps of Exploration, such as Weathersbee, are charged with the responsibility of engaging students and the public in the wonders of ocean exploration, sharing discoveries from the 2018 mission, as well as aspects of daily life aboard a working exploration vessel.

“One of the major goals of our Nautilus Exploration Program is to inspire the next generation of explorers in STEAM fields,” said Allison Fundis, OET’s vice president of marine operations and programs. “We are very excited to provide educators and students with the direct experience of ocean exploration, while allowing them the opportunity to share that experience with their peers around the world.”

Weatherbees plans to bring what she learned to her Patriot science classes, but she has other plans as well. She will be presenting at the Philadelphia Science Museum and is working with T. Clay Wood Elementary School on a STEM club next year, which will have and ocean component.

“We’re going to have my high school kids act as mentors,” she said. She expects it will provide opportunities for team building and problem-solving skills.

Weathersbee will participate in live audio commentary and question-and-answer sessions through the Nautilus Live website while aboard the ship. The public, scientists, educators, and students can join Cassandra’s adventure while she is at sea via streaming video on, a 24-hour portal bringing expeditions from the field to onshore audiences through telepresence technology. The public can also follow the expedition on social media ౼ on Twitter as @EVNautilus and on Facebook and Instagram as @NautilusLive ౼ and through in-person live interactions at partner museums, aquaria, and science centers around the world.

About the Ocean Exploration Trust

The Ocean Exploration Trust was founded in 2008 by Dr. Robert Ballard to explore the ocean, seeking out new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, and archaeology while pushing the boundaries of STEAM education and technological innovation. Our international program is launched from aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, offering live exploration to participants on shore and the public via live video, audio, and data feeds. The major 2018 expedition and education sponsors are the NOAA Office of Exploration & Research, the Office of Naval Research, Ocean Networks Canada, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, NASA Science Mission Directorate PSTAR program, the University of Rhode Island, CITGO, AltaSea, KVH, Global Dynamix, ESS, and additional private donors. Follow us online at, on Facebook and Instagram at @NautilusLive, and on Twitter and YouTube as @EVNautilus.

This article is based upon an interview with Cassandra Weathersbees and information provided by a press release via Prince William County Schools in cooperation with information provided by the E/V Nautilus. 

Corrections made to original article: methane seats has been changed to methane seeps; and 95% of the world’s oceans have not been fully mapped, rather than 95% have been. 

© 2018, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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