Dr. Robert Ballard, Life Scout and world renowned oceanographer who discovered the Titanic, has invited a Virginia Eagle Scout and future leader in marine archaeology to explore the mysteries of the Black Sea. Alex Overman 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.
Overman was awarded the scholarship for his interest in oceanography, his commitment to a career in the industry and for his video essay explaining why he should be selected as the Eagle Scout Argonaut.
Watch Overman’s video application:
The National Eagle Scout Association, Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Initiative and Ballard’s JASON Project are sponsoring the trip in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scout Award and in keeping with the organization’s focus on incorporating STEM in its current advancement programs.
“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 Scout of America’s STEM initiative that prepare the great scientists and explorers of tomorrow.”
Before joining the expedition in Istanbul, Turkey, Overman will travel to Rhode Island and Connecticut to tour 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 Boy Scouts of America’s goal of promoting the sciences among high-school aged youth.
Overman is looking forward to the mentoring and teaching aspects of the program which he feels are important. “Most Scouts who are going for their Eagle rank have to be mentored or helped along the way to reach that final rank,” said Overman. “I think mentoring others and especially nourishing the science side is very important. Ever since I was a little kid, the sciences have been a big inspiration for me, especially geology. I pursued oceanography as my major at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. So you can see it’s been a life-long interest of mine.”
The STEM initiative gives Scouts an opportunity to explore relevant occupations that will help them develop skills critical for the competitive world market. In addition to opportunities like the Black Sea expedition, the BSA has launched the NOVA Award, a new initiative that encourages all Scouts to explore the STEM fields. It leverages interactive learning opportunities ranging from exploring the engineering of rollercoasters 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 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.”
When asked why he thought oceanography was important Overman shared, “I would like to encourage young people who find the ocean and sciences fascinating to pursue it. We know more about space than we know about our oceans, so I think getting more people involved in marine sciences will help us better understand our planet.” Alex will be sharing more about the expedition here at Science Matters when he returns.
Article by Debbie Mickle, Science Matters Project Manager
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