Deeper Blue - Engaging 15-24 year olds in science and innovation for the seas

July 16, 2020
BY ArOuthwaite

How can we inspire young people to engage with oceans and science, without in-person events?

That was the challenge facing the WA Coordinating Committee planning for National Science Week, and the reason they asked For Blue to help. The resulting Deeper Blue campaign will run through until 23rd August across social media, webinars and via amazing challenges.

National Science Week is in August and features more than 1000 events around Australia. This year’s theme is ‘Deep Blue’ focusing on innovation for our oceans. The dual challenge For Blue was invited to assist with was to both: deliver engaging, immersive activities without the traditional in-person event, and to engage 15 to 24 year olds who had been historically hard to attract to National Science Week events.

We took this on because challenge aligns with our vision of WA being the leading Blue Economy in the Indian Ocean. Western Australia is a hub for marine science and the wider ‘blue economy’ yet its value and future significance is presently underestimated. 2021 to 2030 is the international Decade of Ocean Science making this a unique time to grow the industry through attracting young talent, and increasing industry collaboration.

The work also builds on our experience of engaging and facilitating across many sectors to produce our foundational reports and World Oceans Day events. The team working on this includes Samille Mitchell, a multimedia storytelling social entrepreneur, and Elizabeth Knight who engages young people, purposefully, in meaningful career pathways.

Our approach is focused on both delivering measurable outcomes and a great audience experience. We set targets for the age groups, number of participants, and their desired “deeper” experience of the ocean and its relevance to their life and career. This approach resulted in specific ‘avatars’ that differentiate within the target demographic. The “Chaegemaker: are passionate and live their values, while “Makers” are more motivated by entrepreneurial and creative challenges and “T(h)inkers” are more focused on their education and technical skills.

Deeper Blue T(h)inker Avatar
Deeper Blue T(h)inker Avatar

For each audience we identified and engaged relevant ‘stars’ whose journey they can follow and who they can meet and speak with via the webinars. We also created relevant challenges to give the audience a taste of work and life involving the oceans:,making plastic ‘bottles’ from seaweed extract and calculating the total mass of cuttlefish seen in a survey conducted by an underwater robot. We are boosting motivation to complete the challenges by offering prizes including a swim with sharks, work experience with an underwater ROV company and startup-support packages.

Deeper Blue User Experience for National Science Week
Overview of Audience Experience for the Deeper Blue campaign

Over the next 7 weeks you will see all this content roll out through the Inspiring Australia WA website, social media, Scitech and a wide range of campaign partners. Already prior to an official launch we are seeing the videos, stories, social media posts, webinars and challenges attracting the target audience and many beyond them. We’ve also had interest from local governments, conservation organisations and industry groups in applying a similar approach to their engagement challenges. 

Please:

  • check out the campaign and share with your audiences, via social media: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook,
  • email us with any feedback on the campaign or questions about how we did it,
  • get in touch if want to be involved as a partner on this or future similar activities.
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