Partnership Melds Creativity and Science in Downtown New Bedford

NEW BEDFORD — In an effort to increase interest in math and science education in the Greater New Bedford area and strengthen ties to the role of the ocean in the region, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the Ocean Explorium announced a new collaboration Thursday.
UMass Dartmouth will provide financial, faculty and student support to the Ocean Explorium with the goals of increasing interest by kindergarten through Grade 12 students in science and math and encouraging students to stay in school and plan for college.
UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said that in addition to the educational aspects of the partnership, the ties to the Ocean Explorium are intended to showcase the area’s “tremendous life by the sea” and help prepare a work force that would attract companies seeking employees grounded in math, science and especially marine science.
Dr. MacCormack said that UMass Dartmouth already has a substantial presence in New Bedford through its programs offered at the Star Store and its School for Marine Science and Technology. She said SMAST, the Ocean Explorium and the New Bedford Whaling Museum comprise a cluster of science education-oriented facilities and serve as attractions for visitors to the region.
The announcement of the partnership was made at the Ocean Explorium at 174 Union St. on Thursday morning. Among those attending were Dr. Portia S. Bonner, New Bedford superintendent of schools, and Rep. John F. Quinn, D-Dartmouth.
Robert B. Feingold, president and chairman of the Ocean Explorium, said the announcement was a “milestone event” and said that local residents are “fundamentally linked to the ocean” through commerce, recreation and many other ways.
“Our partnership with the university assures that the Ocean Explorium will use state-of-the-art technology and superbly trained professionals … to help our citizens … better explore, understand and care for our oceans,” Mr. Feingold said.
Mr. Feingold said UMass Dartmouth and Dr. MacCormack have played important roles in the Ocean Explorium.
Dr. MacCormack said UMass Dartmouth envisions the university-Ocean Explorium partnership benefitting the local student population and especially downtown New Bedford. She said the partnership will help to “bring science downtown — as we did with the arts eight years ago.” She said that when UMass Dartmouth brought its arts program to the Star Store building, there was little in the way of an arts community and many buildings in the vicinity of the Star Store campus were boarded up.
The partnership also meshes with UMass Dartmouth’s new program based in the School of Education, Public Policy and Civic Engagement, Dr. MacCormack said.
As part of the announcement, the Ocean Explorium showcased its Science on a Sphere technology. Science on a Sphere is a 24-foot-square by 24-foot-high structure housing a large ball at its center onto which four video projectors display images synchronized to sound. The images are intended to create a three-dimensional effect. People sit around the sphere and view science-themed videos involving global issues such as climate change, ocean currents or weather patterns. The Science on a Sphere exhibit was purchased from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Contact Joe Cohen at
September 05, 2008
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What People Are Saying About the Ocean Explorium
“…It is unusual to have adults and children equally enthused about their experience…”! –Grateful Explorers
“It was great to be able to take the teachers to the OE three afternoons to learn about the Pacific Ocean on the Sphere. What a great resource it is for integrating geography and science with history and literature.”—Laurie Robertson-Lorant
The Ocean Explorium is open free to the public on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm with Sphere Experiences offered on the hour every hour. The Ocean Voice speaker series on Thursdays begins at 7pm and is also free. (Starting September 16 the program moves to Tuesday evenings).
A full schedule is available at the website
Ocean Explorium at New Bedford Seaport
174 Union Street, New Bedford, MA 02741
508 994 5400

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