Local teens dive into science
scientific vessel in Mediterranean
September 13, 2011
Two local teens confidently fielded questions from students
around the world about their experiences aboard the R/V Nautilus in a webcast
They spoke from the Mediterranean Sea, where the Nautilus’
world-renowned scientists and oceanographers are conducting research.
For Devyn Jackson, 14, of Granger, and TaShawn Reese, 16, of
South Bend, this experience is just one part of a two-year internship with the
Jason Project, an exploration-based science program that links students in
classrooms to scientists in the field. The program was founded by Robert
Ballard, the oceanographer who discovered the wreck of the RMS Titanic.
The teens’ journey began at the Boys & Girls Club of St.
Joseph County, where they have been involved in Immersion Learning, a program
that partners with the Boys & Girls Club and seeks to provide hands-on
learning in science for kids.
“We have different programs - one on marine mammals and one
on ocean exploration,” said Laura Batt, the Immersion Learning director of
She said both teens had been in the ocean exploration
program, and eventually they joined a ROV (remotely operated vehicle) team
competition two years ago. Their team won the regionals in Chicago and advanced
to the Marine Advanced Technology Education’s international competition.
It sparked an interest in the teens, so she suggested they
apply to the Jason Project. They did. It wasn’t easy.
Lois Jackson, Devyn’s mother, explained that the teens had
to write several essays and submit a video.
“Once they got past the initial stage they had additional
interviews and a phone conference,” she said, explaining that the two teens and
TaShawn’s mother, Lucinda Reese, an educator at the Boys & Girls Club,
applied as a team.
They received two-year internships.
During the webchat, TaShawn shared his reaction at the news
he had been accepted.
“I was completely ecstatic.” he said. “There were so many
people that they had to choose from, So to know that I was one of the people
actually chosen was amazing.”
This summer, he and Devyn traveled to Mystic, Conn., to
attend a boot camp that prepared them for the experiences they would have on
“They had a tight schedule,” Lois said. “I remember calling
(Devyn) around 10 o’clock at night and she would say, ‘Mama I can’t talk right
now, I’m in a meeting.”
But the four days spent on the boat made all the hard work
worth it, Devyn shared on the webcast.
They boarded the ship in Greece on Sunday and will leave the
ship today in Italy. While onboard they toured the boat, checked out the tools
and equipment and learned a lot about navigating the ROVs. And, because the
boat was ahead of schedule, they even had the opportunity to swim in the
Both teens said the trip has influenced their future plans.
Devyn wants to be a lawyer.
“But I can see how many things tie into science and how I
can tie that into being a lawyer,” she said.
TaShawn hadn’t really been sure yet what he wanted to do,
but said he might have found his future career.
“I would like to go to California for engineering and come
back as an ROV pilot,” he said.