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OutdoorFest aims to create a community of New York's urban-based outdoor enthusiasts through our ten-day festival of outdoor adventure events in all five boroughs.

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Turn on your computer & reconnect with nature.

Turn on your computer & reconnect with nature.

Turn on your computer & reconnect with nature.

By Sarah Knapp

In less than two months, oceanographic explorer Fabien Cousteau and his team will scuba dive down sixty-three feet to Aquarius (depicted above), an aquatic habitat in the Florida Keys. For thirty one days they will live in Aquarius and commute to work with their scuba gear - observing and researching everything from fish to reefs. After descending below the surface of the ocean, they will live down three atmospheres, which, Cousteau says, will leave them feeling "narked." 

And though it's unclear if this is a positive or a negative feeling, the thirty one days will be a test not only of their physiology and psychology but something even bigger; global systems of conservation education. The Mission 31 laboratory isn't just an underwater space station but also wifi hotspot.

At this year’s Social Media Week, Cousteau sat next to Nokia’s Global Head of Markets Engagement, Social Media & Digital Alex Oberberg to discuss this intersection of environmental education, technology and exploration. 

The talk  “Mission 31 - First Underwater Expedition That Will Be Entirely Interactive and Why It Matters” focused on themes of connectivity. The conversation quickly dove into the use of technology to facilitate a unique scientist-to-student experience. Mixed in with the team’s daily research will be Skype calls, tweets, and other live interaction with students across the world. The scientists will be able to give updates on their discoveries and the students will be able to ask questions and receive immediate answers. 

Often, when we talk about social media the dialogue turns to the “s” word: share. Sharing has come to mean passing on media via the retweet button or the “share” button on Facebook. But what happens when we shift this process from simply passing on information and return to the original meaning of sharing information: through conversations and real time experiences. 

It would be impractical to bring hundreds of children physically under water. And that’s exactly why this mission is so amazing - because it’s breaking down barriers of accessibility. Those children will still get to go down there. They will still be able to see Aquarius. They will still hear from Cousteau after a day of discovery. The laboratory is set up so that the team can literally share the excitements and fears of living over 60 feet underwater with a global student body. The process of exploration is working in tandem with the connectivity of modern day life in a way that few expeditions have ever done. 

It’s a paradox in some ways, as many adventurers will head to the wild crevices of the earth to escape people. Yet, here a team is heading into the deep to increase connections. And the connection is not just between students and the Mission 31 team, but also between potential young adventures and places that inspire. 

By whetting the appetites of the next generation of adventurers and explorers, the team hopes to unveil curiosity. By capturing childrens’ attention and showing them the mystery, excitement and beauty of the underwater world – Cousteau is working to inspire our future generations to continue exploring and learning about the ocean. 

Ultimately, the hope is that through this inspiration and education, Mission 31 will increase advocates for the protection of our resources. Throughout the talk Cousteau consistently returned to the phrase: “we've lost connection with planet.” So in order to reconnect, Mission 31 is turning on the wifi and diving in. 

Check out Mission 31’s website and find out how to get involved. Plus go to Nokia’s Facebook page to win a free dive. Above photo of the Aquarius via Mission 31's site.

The Future of Our City

The Future of Our City

Events: 3/26 - 31

Events: 3/26 - 31