Seventy percent of the Earth is ocean, and 37% of the ocean is more than two and a half miles deep. But why should we care about this dark, inhospitable environment? 

Dr. Katie Inderbitzen, a former postdoctoral researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and oceanology expert, delivered a lecture to the 2022 virtual National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) on the truth behind the notion “we have better maps of the surface of Mars than we do of the Earth’s seafloor” and how this relates to mapping and exploring the deep sea. 

Dr. Inderbitzen shared her decade of experiences with delegates, including deep sea research submersibles, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), and scientific ocean drilling to explore locations not previously seen by human eyes.

“Currently, something we struggle with is ocean literacy. High school exposure to ocean science is very minimal,” Dr. Inderbitzen explained. “A lot of kids, and even adults, don’t realize how much the ocean affects us.”

Dr. Inderbitzen has lectured several times at the NYSCamp, and was enthusiastic to join the delegation once again this summer. 

 “If you’re less afraid of something, the more likely you would want to learn about it!” she said in an effort to break the stigma of the deep ocean as a dark and scary place. “One of the reasons why I keep coming back to camp is to remind kids of the importance of oceanology, even if they don’t study it, so they understand how their daily choices affect the ocean.”

Regarding her experience with the NYSCamp, Dr. Inderbitzen said, “‘What can’t I say about NYSCamp? I already knew what I wanted to do when I attended as a delegate, but the exposure to all things science, things I never had access to at the time, made me a more holistic scientist. I could see how my little piece fit in with all the others. This could be the first time these students find ‘their people.’”

About the National Youth Science Camp: Hosted in Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia since 1963, the National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) is a residential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program designed to honor and challenge some of the nation’s rising leaders and provide them with opportunities to engage with STEM professionals and participate in exciting outdoor activities. Typically, two delegates are selected to attend camp from each state and the District of Columbia. In partnership with the U.S. State Department, we also host international delegates. Past countries represented include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago. Housing, meals, transportation, and supplies are provided to participants at no cost. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, now for the 3rd consecutive year, the 2022 National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) is an entirely virtual experience.