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NOAA Adopt a Drifter Program

The NOAA Office of Climate Observation established the Adopt a Drifter Program (ADP) in December 2004 for K-16 teachers from the United States and partnering schools abroad. The program provides teachers with an opportunity to infuse ocean observing system data into their curricula by adopting a drifting buoy equipped with scientific instruments where the data are made available in near real-time.  Together students around the world track their co-adopted drifter and work with the scientific data to understand the ocean’s circulation and transport of heat as the drifter moves in warm and cold ocean currents.  This is a free educational program open to students at all levels.

Find out more about ADP!

Students launch a surface drifter from the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary vessel Auk

On board the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary vessel Auk, students of Gates Intermediate School of Scituate, MA, and NOAA Deputy Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, launch a drifting buoy into the Sanctuary waters. The drifter will travel in the ocean currents, joining a full global ocean drifter array that collects vital ocean and climate data. Credit: NOAA.

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The NOAA Adopt a Drifter Program Mission
The mission of the NOAA Adopt a Drifter Program is to establish scientific partnerships between schools around the world and to engage students in activities and communication about ocean climate science. 

Special ADP Earth Day 2012 celebration!
In celebration of Earth Day, schools in six U.S. locations co-adopted a drifting buoy with partnering schools in other countries during April and May 2012. Student essay and art contest winners and their teachers deployed their school's drifter from a boat at sea. Students are tracking their special buoys as they drift across warm and cold currents of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans transmitting sea surface temperature (SST) data along the way.

The tracks and SST data for drifters deployed by students at the six locations - Boston, Miami, Mobile, Santa Barbara, Seattle, and Maui - are available at the ADP Earth Day 2012 web site.  Media information, videos, winning essays and artwork, and photos can be accessed there as well.

BLUE Ocean Film Festival ADP Experience
The NOAA Adopt a Drifter Program (ADP) was highlighted during the BLUE Ocean Film Festival in Savannah, GA in 2009 and Monterey, CA in 2010.  Once again, the ADP will have a presence in Monterey in September 2012 to celebrate BLUE.

Students launch a surface drifter from the National Marine Sanctuary vessel Fulmar

Student essay contest winners from Notre Dame High School in Salinas, CA, deploy their school's drifter from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary vessel Fulmar, along with Adopt a Drifter Program coordinator, Diane Stanitski, as part of the BLUE Ocean Film Festival in 2010. Credit: NOAA.

The mission of the BLUE educational initiative is to give students an interactive learning experience that increases their understanding of marine currents, fosters interest in the ocean-related sciences and comprehension of how the ocean connects us all.

As a part of the 2012 BLUE Ocean Film Festival’s (BLUE) Ocean Education Outreach, they are teaming up with the NOAA Adopt a Drifter Program and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s (MBNMS) Education Program to offer local and partnering international high school students the opportunity to participate in an engaging oceanographic program.

A NOAA drifting buoy will be ceremoniously launched in September 2012 from the National Marine Sanctuary’s R/V Fulmar, the vessel that will carry the buoys and winning students out to the designated deployment area.  All local participating classrooms will be invited to partake in a series of dockside activities and a ceremonial launch prior to the actual deployment.  Participating schools and the public will then be able to track the buoy’s progress via the web.

The drifters contribute to the larger global drifter array and measure and transmit sea surface temperature and positioning coordinates via satellite for approximately 400 days.