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NOAA partners with Captain Barnacles and the Octonauts

Posting in Education

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The adorable animated children’s series "Octonauts," about a team of undersea adventurers, has found itself a new federal partner in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The agency’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and Octonauts producer, Silvergate Media, have signed a letter of intent to develop a formal partnership to raise awareness of ocean exploration and science and advance NOAA’s mission. The New York Times reports.

Even before federal involvement, Octonauts have consulted with marine biologists to make sure its content was accurate. The colorful 8-member team has, for example, visited the Mariana Trench, the ocean’s deepest location.

Now, by adding elements like a NOAA recording of the 52-hertz whale, “we’re able to deepen the science within the body of the show,” said Octonauts creator Kurt Mueller.

NOAA is already supplying images and sounds from its archives for an Octonauts game to be released next year by toy company LeapFrog. There are also plans to extend learning beyond the screen with events at aquariums nationwide, joint development of educational materials, and collaboration on new products like toys and mobile apps.

The collaboration, Mueller added, “lends the show the rubber stamp of legitimacy.”

NOAA, which contacted the producers 18 months ago, is trying to encourage future oceanographers but also wants to raise its profile among the broader public. Through Octonauts, “we find we’re reaching their parents just about as effectively as we are reaching 3- to 5-year-olds,” said NOAA’s David McKinnie.

Have you ever seen this show? I’ve seen several episodes while visiting with my friend’s 4-year-old, and let me tell you, it’s entertaining.

The new partnership, which has no financial component, is expected to be completed early next year. It will be announced next week.

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Fellow agency NASA has begun a collaboration with the planned animated series “Space Racers,” about five adventurous spaceships. They're reviewing all the scripts and have provided experts for short live-action components in the program, which are being filmed at places like NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the National Air and Space Museum. Other than a series of videos with Elmo, NASA has not previously worked at the preschool level.

[New York Times]

Images: Sayles & Winnikoff Communications (top) / Octonauts cake by Tama Leaver via Flickr

— By on October 29, 2013, 3:00 PM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure