13 October 2014
Invited by the Stazione Zoologica A. Dohrn and the Consulate of France, the schooner stopped in Naples for a few days. As with each return to land, visits and events rhythm the days of the crew. Yesterday, the Tara Oceans Expedition (2009-2013) was in the spotlight at a conference at the Zoological Station A. Dohrn.
Meanwhile, nearly 200 school children were visiting the boat. Catherine Colonna, French Ambassador in Italy, was also present to honour this visit. The day’s marathon finally ended with the screening of “Tara Oceans, Journey to the Sources of Life” at the French Consulate. It will also be shown with subtitles in Italian schools.
Daniele Iudicone, researcher at the Station Zoologica A. Dohrn and one of the scientific coordinators of Tara Oceans, discusses the importance of this stop.
The schooner’s presence in Naples was marked by special events such as the conference held yesterday at the Zoological Station A. Dohrn.
This morning was organized as part of the Italian Presidency of the European Community. The goal was to combine science and politics, defending causes like research and protection of the oceans, and highlighting the research of Tara Oceans to political representatives. This day was part of a series of important events that should help make our scientific work more visible within the European Union. The Undersecretary of State to the Ministry of Environment was present, and the Minister of Environment himself sent a personal message along with his scientific adviser.
Of course we hope for a positive impact, both in terms of funding to continue Tara’s research, and political awareness for the Climate Conference (COP21) to be held in Paris in December 2015.
Tara stopped in Naples on your invitation. Why was the schooner’s arrival so important?
First, to highlight the collaboration between Tara and the Stazione Zoologica A. Dohrn. We wanted to launch a major awareness program, and the presence of the schooner was necessary to crystallize the message and make an impression. This educational campaign is supported financially by the Stazione Zoologica. 10 days before Tara arrived in Naples, the Institute hosted students and organized conferences. More than 500 children attended and had the opportunity to observe plankton diversity using a microscope connected to a projector. We also set up drawing competitions on the problem of plastic pollution. A big final event is scheduled for October 31 with 800 students.
We have received help from Universal Forum of Cultures-UNESCO to implement this initiative. After being selected, we received funding to make a documentary dedicated to Tara’s stopover and our research. It, too, will be screened on October 31.
Finally, we started cooperation with the Citta della Scienza, a Neapolitan institution whose mission is to popularize science. We will develop educational modules about Tara especially for Italy, along the lines of what is being done by Tara’s office in Paris, but adapted to the research conducted at the Institute.
How did the children respond to this educational campaign?
Elementary school children were really receptive to our message, but it was more difficult to capture the attention of teenagers. I think this type of event is important in order to change certain misconceptions: Students are not attracted to research, and not many enroll in the Faculty of Sciences. In Italy, the work of a researcher is not sufficiently valued and the media do not convey a positive message about scientists. Researchers are often described as crazy scholars who dedicate their lives to the laboratory.
Interview by Noëlie Pansiot
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