By next year, construction on UCSB’s new Ocean Sciences and Education building should be finalized, offering a complete array of interactive marine activities such as virtual diving expeditions and hands-on touch tanks.

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Visitors to the current Marine Science Building experience the touch tank. The new facility will also encourage student participation and educational outreach.

The OSE building — which will be located on the east side of campus — will function as a collaboration project between UCSB’s Marine Science Institute and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, solidifying a 30-year partnership between the two programs. The building will serve as the physical headquarters for the CINMS program and house the Outreach Center for Teaching Ocean Science — a recently created art education facility.

Shauna Bingham, outreach coordinator for the Santa Barbara NOAA branch, said she anticipates a sizeable showing of student participation in the program.

“The building will hopefully serve about 40,000 students a year,” Bingham said.

CINMS Education Coordinator Laura Francis said OCTOS will educate K-12 students on the importance of protecting and conserving aquatic life.

“Students will learn about marine life and challenges [that ecosystems face] within the ocean,” Francis said.

Similar to UCSB’s Marine Science Building, the OSE will house touch tanks containing marine life for participants to acquaint themselves with.

“There will be an aquarium tank and a wet lab where students can make observations and collect data,” Francis said.

According to Francis, virtual diving expeditions will be a central component of the program.

“Students can participate in a virtual dive, collecting data and looking at marine-like live kelp and assess different plants and animals in the sea,” Francis said.
CINMS — established in 1980 by the U.S. Congress to protect the ocean ecosystem surrounding the Santa Barbara, Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands — will also be conducting research in the OSE.

Furthermore, Francis said the building will provide an extremely important educational opportunity for participants while expanding local understanding and appreciation for the intricacies of ocean life.

“Through research, education, conservation and stewardship, the sanctuary enhances public awareness about the value of taking care of our ocean today and for the future,” Francis said.

Construction on the building began this past January and 30 undergraduate UCSB students have already been hired as tour guides.

*Note: This video provides exclusive coverage of a tour held in May so that staff could experience the Research Experience & Education Facility— UCSB’s very own interactive aquarium facility— first hand. This video does not capture a tour in the Ocean Sciences and Education building, which will not be constructed fully until Fall. However, when completed, the OSE building will feature numerous interactive opportunities for visitors to enjoy, including a marine touch-tank similar to that at REEF as well as virtual diving expeditions. Both the OSE and REEF are a part of the university’s Marine Sciences Institute.