Monday, August 1, 2016

Cornerstone Academy Science Teacher Picked for Nautilus Pacific Expedition

Shawn Gregg, an eighth-grade teacher at Cornerstone Academy, has been selected to join a small group of educators on a deep-sea sailing trip aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus in early August.

During his Aug. 13-18 expedition, Gregg will explore areas of the eastern Pacific Ocean between Los Angeles and San Francisco focusing on sea floor mapping in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

The Greater Farallones is a 3,295 square-mile marine ecosystem off the northern and central California coast that has been designated as nationally significant.

Gregg was among a competitive pool of national applicants chosen by The Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) for the Nautilus Ambassador Program. The special trust, a nonprofit founded by Dr. Robert Ballard, aims to explore the oceans and to seek out new discoveries in the area of geology, biology, maritime history, physics and chemistry while pushing the boundaries of STEM education and innovation.

STEM is a popular term used to refer to the growing fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Gregg was among 24 educators and 22 students residing in the United States and Australia.

Sea-going expeditions with the Nautilus Corps of Exploration are sailing this year in the eastern Pacific from May until September.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected to travel on the E/V Nautilus. To be able to work along with the Nautilus crew and show students how STEM relates to real world experiences is truly a special opportunity,” Gregg said.

As a result of his trip, Gregg hopes to gain greater insights into STEM careers, get inspired to create new lessons, and encourage students to think more deeply about science subjects and related STEM careers.

“I also appreciate the support of my principal, Jill Wright, and the students and the entire staff at Cornerstone Academy,” he also said.

As a Nautilus Corps of Exploration member, Gregg will closely observe and learn alongside scientists and engineers at sea. He will also participate in live audio and question-and-answer sessions through the Nautilus Live website, and is scheduled to speak with his Cornerstone colleagues through an audio/visual link a few days before district classes begin on Aug. 22.

The website, located at, is a 24-hour web portal that allows land-based viewers to observe sea expeditions in near real-time digital formats.

“One of the major goals of our Nautilus Exploration Program is to inspire the next generation of explorers in STEM fields,” said Allison Fundis, OET’s vice president of education, outreach and communications, in a recent press release.

“We are very excited to provide educators and students with the direct experience of ocean exploration while allowing them the opportunity to share that experience with their peers around the world,” she also said.

Government and corporate sponsors support this international program and trust. OET’s sponsors currently include the NOAA offices of Exploration & Research, Naval Research and National Marine Sanctuaries, and the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, the University of Rhode Island, CITGO, AltaSea and private donors.

At the district charter Cornerstone Academy, Gregg, an 18-year educator, teaches middle school science, geology, geography, astronomy and physical education. A former environmental scientist, he traveled widely across the United States and to U.S. military installations.

He’s a fan of Cornerstone Academy’s high academic and behavioral expectations, as well as the charter school’s focus on creating students who can think critically, work collaboratively and analyze independently.

Led by Director Jill Wright, Cornerstone Academy has earned exemplary ratings since it opened doors in the late 1990s. Exemplary is the highest possible rating.

In addition to the NautilusLive website, a Facebook or Instagram link is available at NautilusLive, or Twitter @EVNautilus.


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