Oceanx: Coming Soon to a Berth Near You!

The most advanced exploration, research, and media vessel ever built, OceanX, is going to be based in Singapore for half the year of 2024. She will explore our Pacific and Indian oceans and engage with scientists, educators, and students in Singapore.


Oceanx: Coming Soon to a Berth Near You!

Written and Videographed by Mahboob Mahmood

Oceanx is a one-of-a-kind vessel: an innovation-packed platform to discover and engage with our incredible oceans and their inhabitants!

Oceanx and her crew — including marine scientists, biologists, data engineers, divers, filmmakers, and ocean discovery technicians — are dedicated to exploring the oceans and sharing their findings with everyone.

Starting in 2024, Oceanx will be based half the year in Singapore from where she will explore our Pacific and Indian oceans.

During the COP 28 summit in Dubai, I had the privilege of meeting Mark Dalio (Founder and Creative Director), Nicole Thomson (VP of Partnerships), Amy Freeland (VP of Communications), and other Oceanx team members. They invited me to explore Oceanx and I gladly took up their offer.

Neptune and Nadir

Colin Wollerman (Pilot and Technician) showed me around the two manned Triton submarines.

Neptune dives down to 1,000 meters to collect samples using both a vacuum tube and a robotic arm.

Nadir dives with a 2-person film crew who operate high-resolution cameras and powerful lights to film the ocean depths.

The Scuba Centre

Mark Ward next took me to the ship’s incredibly well-stocked scuba centre, complete with a dive boat and dive suits for most kinds of temperatures!

The Decompression Chamber

Oceanx has its own decompression chamber. This chamber, and other medical facilities, enables Oceanx to travel far and wide while safeguarding her crew.

The CTD Profiling System

Mark then showed me the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth) Profiling System. This is an unmanned system that can go down as deep as needed to collect samples of ocean water and tiny life forms.

The Remote Operated Vehicle

Andrew Craig (ROV Team Leader) showed me the ship’s 6,000-metre ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle). Capable of reaching 98% of the ocean, the ROV is tethered to the ship; it collects samples, takes videos, and gathers all kinds of information.

The Remote Control Centre

We then visited the space-age mission control centre, which acts as the brain and control centre for the ROV.

Who said playing immersive video games doesn’t build science skills?!

Other discovery vessels include an Otter Autonomous Surface Vehicle and a helicopter.

Photo: Oceanx

Data Collection

Underneath the ship’s hull is a gondola which contains equipment that maps the ocean floor!

Think about the many ways in which Oceanx can collect data on the shallows and depths of our oceans!

The Wet Lab

Mark then took us to the wet lab. In the wet lab, there are three tanks that can create different environments (salinity, temperature, etc.) to keep alive coral and other sea animals for further studies. A dark, cold tank room can recreate environments for creatures that live in the cold, dark, depths of the ocean. And freezers enable the preservation of specimens for later studies.

The Dry Labs

I then met Mattie Rodrigue (Science Program Lead), who introduced me to two of the ship’s three dry labs. The first lab we visited focuses on imaging and microscopy. Among many very cool things, Oceanx is making 3D images of sea life and will share these globally with scientists, educators, students, and people around the world!

The second dry lab — the Molecular Sequencing Facility — is even cooler! It sequences the DNA of specimens. Because the oceans are so underexplored, Oceanx has already started discovering specimens with new DNA structures!

Through the combination of information-gathering tools and labs, Oceanx is able to collect and analyse the oceans and her inhabitants on an almost real-time basis!!

And this is just the beginning: as the ship’s data streaming and community features get going, Oceanx will be sharing real-time information with and obtaining real-time inputs from scientists, educators, students, and observers around the world.

Stay tuned for the many ways Singapore’s scientists, educators, and students can engage with Oceanx — and through Oceanx with the incredible oceans and life around us!

To follow Oceanx, visit their website or follow them on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Environmental Literacy and Distance Learning

For most teachers, integrating environmental literacy into instruction typically involves taking students outside, on a field trip, into schoolyards, or attending a residential science camp. Unfortunately, a lot of those opportunities are closed off due to COVID-19 as students and teachers have been forced into a distance learning setting for health and safety concerns, and educators have had to rethink how they approach environmental literacy. Along with the inability for teachers to meet with students in person, there has been a general loss of instructional time for students in the field of science. During this unprecedented time, subjects such as English Language Arts and Math are being prioritized, which leaves science instruction and environmental literacy to fall behind. One of the reasons for the prioritization of other subjects outside of science is due to teachers being unable to use and shift the same lessons they have spent time developing for in-person instruction to a distance learning setting. 

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Dean Reese, the Coordinator of Outdoor Education and Environmental Literacy for the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE). Dean is the project director for the Region 6 California Environmental Literacy Project and supports teachers in their efforts to connect students to the outdoors with environmental literacy throughout San Joaquin County and beyond. Over the past year, Dean has been providing incomparable guidance to teachers on how to transition their environmental literacy programs to fit the needs of an unprecedented learning setting – whether that be distance learning or a hybrid classroom model.  

When transitioning to distance learning, many educators have had to think outside the box and create new lesson plans that integrate their normal approach with the use of technology. Tools such as HyperDocs and Google Classroom allow teachers to have students participate in an interactive digital document where they can do synchronous or asynchronous learning. This is especially helpful when finding a solution that meets the learning needs of all students.  

“It’s about being innovative and creative, and figuring out how can we still engage students even though we can’t be face to face.” 

Dean Reese

An effective way to approach environmental literacy in this setting is to utilize digital tools such as breakout rooms in video conferencing software and interactive whiteboards such as Jamboard. Jamboard allows students to talk amongst themselves and write out questions; similar to what you can do in an in-person classroom setting.  

As Dean mentioned in our interview, it’s important to understand that students are just as zoom-fatigued as adults, so we must find ways to meet their emotional and social needs in addition to their academic needs. It’s hard for students to stay engaged in a distance learning setting, especially in science, where environmental literacy is most commonly integrated, as it’s often hands-on and interactive. To combat this, we need to utilize the space where our students live such as their local parks and backyards. A lot is going on in the ecosystems all around us and teachers should encourage students to engage with their surroundings.  

“We walk by the nature that is around us all the time without taking the time to stop and look, so there is an opportunity to understand nature right where we live.” 

Nature journaling is a great approach to incorporate environmental literacy into a distance learning curriculum – drawing, asking questions, interacting with phenomena in front of them – it is an opportunity for students to slow down, observe, and discuss the exciting things they see outside with their peers. It creates a sense of community in a time where many are removed from their usual interactions with friends and educators. 

At the SJCOE, County Superintendent of Schools, James Mousalimas, has prioritized science and environmental literacy. It is through this focus that the SJCOE has made significant progress with its environmental literacy efforts. Dean has been able to take part in several initiatives to provide professional development for teachers looking to integrate environmental literacy in a distance learning setting. The SJCOE has established and sustained environmental literacy networks that bring students, teachers, and community-based partners together to simultaneously learn in this new way. They have also partnered with the CA Department of Education where they are holding workshops to raise awareness of programs that look at the sustainability of a school, the health and wellness of students and staff, and to identify the types of environmental education tools and programs they have available.  

As a backbone of networks for advancing environmental literacy, the SJCOE has created 3 distinct groups to engage differing demographics with environmental literacy: CPEL (Community Partners for Environmental Literacy), TEL (Teachers for Environmental Literacy), and YEL (Youth for Environmental Literacy). As Dean enthusiastically proclaimed,  

“We’re gonna TEL it, we’re gonna CPEL it, and we’re gonna YEL it!”  

Dean Reese

The CPEL network provides the opportunity to identify which community partners are active in San Joaquin County and in the greater region, as well as who is providing environmental education services for our schools in an equitable way. The TEL network is a great platform for both students with YEL, and community-based partners with CPEL, to interact with teachers and make sure their environmental literacy programs and teachings are relevant to students. YEL, an engaging network for students, keeps them informed, inspires them, and provides a pathway for green careers after high school. It has also been a platform where students can talk to adults and teachers to try and get the change they are looking for in environmental education to happen within their classrooms. 

Since many organizations are now meeting virtually, it has allowed agencies such as the SJCOE to expand their resources outside their county and to the greater region, allowing students, teachers, and community-based partners to talk to other schools outside of their local community. They can share tools and new tricks to help students and teachers stay engaged and excited about environmental literacy initiatives.  

“There is so much learning done when students talk and share with one another.” 

Dean Reese

One of the things Dean feels is imperative once we transition back to the classroom, is to remember all the great tools we have discovered over the last year with virtual learning. A lot of community-based partners and state parks have created resources for students and teachers, so when there is a transition back into the classroom, educators should not forget all they have utilized during this period, and instead, integrate them into their normal classroom lessons or after school during homework hours. 

We asked Dean about his outlook on the state of environmental literacy, and he acknowledges that we are at the beginning of environmental literacy and there is much to do in terms of engaging stakeholders and allowing environmental literacy programs to prosper. However, Dean is optimistic that we will “continue to see a rise in importance for environmental literacy across counties in California.” With environmental literacy champions like Dean working tirelessly to advance the field, teachers, students, parents, and community-based partners are in good hands. 

Relevant Links 

SJCOE STEM Programs 

The SJCOE STEM Program Mission is to provide innovative programs that empower students, educators, and regional communities to engage in learning experiences integrating science, technology, engineering, and math. 

SJCOE Environmental Literacy Networks 

The environmental literacy team is building networks to connect and support environmental education between community-based partners, educators, students, and school districts and sites. We will meet throughout the year to address challenges, support each other’s work, build capacity, foster collaboration, and further integrate our districts and schools into the real work to address local and global environmental challenges. 

SJCOE Outdoor Education | Science Camp, Jones Gulch 

San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE), Science Camp, Jones Gulch, informally known as “Science Camp”, is a week-long residential outdoor education program reaching approximately 4500 fifth and sixth graders and 600 high school cabin leaders each year since 1957. On the California coast, students spend five days and four nights exploring the natural world and learning about the spectacular redwood forest and coastal ecosystems. 

Ten Strands 

Ten Strands is the leading field catalyst and “backbone organization” in the state of California and the founder of CAELI. It partners with the state government, local education agencies, providers of environmental education, community members, and funders to make environmental literacy a reality for all California’s K–12 students. 


Google’s interactive whiteboard system offers a collaborative experience for teams and classrooms. 


Flipgrid is a free and accessible video discussion experience for PreK to Ph.D. educators, learners, and families. 


HyperDocs.co is an online teacher academy and a resource-sharing hub. HyperDocs are digital lesson plans that are designed by teachers and given to students. They provide access for students to all the content and learning in one organized digital space. 

Google Classroom 

Classroom is a free service for schools, non-profits, and anyone with a personal Google account. Classroom makes it easy for learners and instructors to connect—inside and outside of schools. Classroom saves time and paper and makes it easy to create classes, distribute assignments, communicate, and stay organized.