Rob Nelson S.C.U.B.A. diverWe asked Rob what is one thing he is passionate about. He told us that one of the many things he loves doing is SCUBA diving. We asked if he could write a brief story about what diving has meant to him and about how he has used diving to inspire students around the world. Here is what he said...
A few weeks back, I moved into the new headquarters for Untamed Science - our company dedicated to inspiring young minds about nature. I began unpacking my underwater photographs and realized how many I had forgotten about. Haley, our newest diver, was in awe of the amazing places that I had photographed and started asking me about them. About halfway through reminiscing about my dive photos, she asked, “What made you start diving?”
What made me start diving? It’s something I had to pause to think about. Was it just a tool for adventure - or is there something more spiritual to it? When I stopped and thought about it, I realized that diving was the first thing that really inspired me to explore the great outdoors. The coral reef ecosystem was the mystical land of my dreams, and when the time came to see it for the first time, I was hooked. That one high school experience on a reef in Key Largo was powerful enough to inspire a marine biology major – and a life of underwater exploration.
As a senior in high school, I was quoted in our yearbook saying, “I want to be the next Jacques Cousteau.” This bold statement was kind of funny, coming from a kid living in Texas - 300 miles from the ocean. At the time, I thought being like Cousteau meant becoming a marine biologist that learns as much as they can about everything in the ocean. It was only after finishing my masters in coral reef ecology and population ecology that I realized that Cousteau’s greatest legacy was the world of ocean lovers he inspired. He took film crews and scientists to new places - and shared it with the world. It was at that time I realized that,while I could never stop learning about the marine world, my true calling in life was as a teacher. I wanted to be a teacher using the same medium as Cousteau, - my video camera.
Since my graduate study in Hawaii, I’ve dedicated my life to inspiring students to get excited about the world around them. I’ve realized that half the battle is to show them amazing places (like Cousteau did for me) that make them want to learn more. The other half is to inspire life-long learning. Our mission as members of Untamed Science is to accomplish both of these goals. We also want our nation’s youth to yearn for exploration and discovery because it’s just plain fun. So how do we show kids that science is fun?
We make learning science fun by producing science videos that are funny, inspirational and adventurous – fueling the desire for exploration and understanding of the natural world. One of the greatest assets we have now is sharing our personal experiences through the underwater world. Of our 8, full time staff of biologist filmmakers, all are divers – and 6 out of 8 of us began our scientific journeys studying marine biology. Clearly the marine realm inspires us all, so why not use it to inspire the next generation!
In the coming year, the crew of Untamed Science will be making over 80 videos for elementary school kids - adding to the 35 we produced this year for the Pearson High School Biology textbook and the 70 videos for Middle grade science. Of those, almost a third will be using diving to illustrate various scientific processes. Why? Not only do we know it well, but we hope our personal passion and awe for the marine world will be a driving force in the videos. From cave diving in Florida, diving a rift lake in Iceland, a kelp forest in California, diving reefs in Honduras, Thailand, Borneo, and Hawaii - we’ll have a huge diversity in underwater places to share with the next generation. We can’t call ourselves the next Cousteau team, but we are thrilled to be the first Ecogeeks of Untamed Science.