Adopt-A-Float Program

The Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling (SOCCOM) project is partnering with teachers and classrooms across the country to inspire and educate students about the Southern Ocean and climate change through its “Adopt-A-Float” initiative. It creates a powerful opportunity for elementary- and secondary-aged students to engage directly with world-class scientists and learn about their research by naming and tracking SOCCOM floats.

The process is simple. George Matsumoto of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute identifies science teachers interested in oceanography and climate and pairs them with SOCCOM scientists scheduled to deploy floats in the Southern Ocean. He then works with partners at Climate Central to provide the teachers with background materials (reports, videos, graphics, animations) on the Southern Ocean and on the specific work being done by SOCCOM researchers. The students have the opportunity to give a soon-to-be-deployed float a name, and follow its progress to sea through blogs written by their paired SOCCOM scientists. Each classroom can find its float on our adopted floats table and explore data collected via a special adopt-a-float version of SOCCOMViz.

This program has enjoyed tremendous success. From just one classroom in just one school in 2015, the pilot now encompasses 25 schools across the country. In total, 46 floats have been adopted and named. The chosen names have honored explorers (RE Byrd, RF Scott, EH Shackleton), scientists (Darwin, Mann) and even favorite cartoon characters (Huey, Louie and Dewey). There’s even been a Tator Tot.

Teachers, students and SOCCOM scientists have expressed strong support for the program, citing a unique opportunity to interact around a shared passion for better understanding the Southern Ocean’s outsized role in our climate system.  If you are a teacher interested in adopting one of our SOCCOM floats, visit our adopt-a-float resource page to learn more about the program and how to apply.