Oceanus (working title) is a multi-platform media project designed to increase ocean literacy and communicate the latest oceanographic research and exploration. Produced by National Geographic Television, the project will focus on the complex science behind the global ocean systems and the many challenges involved in deep-ocean exploration. Oceanus is designed to reach a broad public audience across both genders and all demographics. The project also includes links to formal education, with special outreach efforts to Spanish-speaking students. The project goals are to increase viewer literacy about 1) the essential principles and fundamental concepts underlying ocean systems and functions, and 2) the impact of the ocean on humanity and our influence on it.
The deliverables include a 5-part "landmark" television series featuring Dr. Robert Ballard and a host of international scientists, which will premiere on the National Geographic Channel in 2012. The series will employ a new generation of underwater exploration technology which allows for an unprecedented view of the ocean floor. The project also includes digital and online content, a companion book, coverage in National Geographic magazine and National Geographic Kids magazine, formal and informal materials for teachers and students and an outreach program for underserved youth. Multimedia Research will conduct formative evaluation in two phases, and Knight Williams Inc. will conduct summative evaluation in three separate studies to assess the project's learning impacts with respect to the television series, web and outreach activities.
Oceanus will showcase technical innovations which advance deep-sea film making. The project aims to engage a broad audience with compelling stories about a critical area of science and related cutting-edge engineering. The television series is expected to reach 25 million viewers in the U.S., and the outreach material millions more. The summative evaluation will add to the body of research on the impact of science educational television on adults, and the impact of outreach to underserved audiences with respect to ocean-related topics.
The major goal of the project was to address, across multiple platforms, the critical lack of understanding about ocean concepts and ocean issues among the American public. Since research shows that an uninformed public cannot actively participate in producing and implementing solutions to safeguard ocean health, and that media are effective means of communicating scientific information, Oceanus was designed to enhance public understanding of how ocean systems work, how the oceans keep our planet healthy and viable, and how human activity can impact the health of our oceans. Over the course of the project we created a 5-part HD television series (and companion DVD Box Set) that aired worldwide on the National Geographic Channel; a 1-hour 3D special; a National Geographic Magazine feature article and map supplement, a feature in National Geographic Kids Magazine, a children's book, an online game, a series of print and video educational materials and resources for teachers and students, and an interactive web site, as well as a formative evaluation of the films and a summative evaluation of multiple project components. Of all the projects involved, the most significant results came from the broadcast of the series on the National Geographic Channel. The premiere boasted an impressive 7.7 million viewers, and 3.3 million within the Channel's target age demographic of 25-54. Other successes included a set of six collector's cards about deep-water creatures, which were blown into the September 2012 issue of National Geographic Kids magazine, National Geographic Magazine's "Mountains in the Sea" (a 14-page illustrated article, with text, photographs, and graphics) and "Beneath the Oceans/Mauna Kea - The Worldâ€™s Tallest Mountain" (a double-sided, 31 x 20 inch supplement map and graphic poster), National Geographic Channel's interactive website, appropriately named, Explore the Floors of Our Ocean Planet, which continues to allow viewers to learn about geology and oceanic ecosystems and lastly the Alien Deep Book created by National Geographic Kids which reached 17,500 people and was selected as an Outstanding Science Trade Book by NSTA. This project is one of the largest National Geographic Society cross-platform initiatives to date. It's participants and viewers involve an audience of unprecedented breadth. This initiative is also versatile as it can act as an educational tool as well as smart entertainment. We are heading into a time period where "smart is cool" and viewers and students are smarter and want a faster, consistent flow of information. The Alien Deep project was the beginning of many programs from National Geographic that will reach audiences on all platforms and inform while entertaining.