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  • Young Ocean Explorers features people ranging in age from 14-year-old Riley to septuagenarian Wade Doak. They all share an interest in marine conservation. Have you ever wondered what inspires them – or other scientists – to pursue a career in science? The Meet the Gurus pages in Love Our Ocean reveals some common themes.

    Passion for space physics

    In this video Craig Rodger describes how, as a young boy, he developed a passion for space exploration and travel by watching TV coverage of the Voyager and space shuttle missions.


    One aspect that motivates most scientists is the need to know. Turtle expert Dan Godoy says, “I don’t think I decided to be a scientist, it just happened. I was always curious as a kid so would always ask questions as to why and how things worked.” This strong desire to know or learn something can come from many sources. Sometimes it is from personal experiences. Riley and the Young Ocean Explorers gurus regularly spend time in the sea and have questions about the creatures they observe and work with. Curiosity is also sparked by other people, and many of the gurus were inspired by watching television documentaries or reading about the work of other scientists.

    Children look at the world in wonder and want explanations about why and how things work the way they do. I never grew out of asking ‘why’.

    Agnès Le Port


    Adventure is defined as an unusual and exciting or daring experience. Riley certainly has had many adventures. Some of these are thrilling – like hand-feeding Sandager’s wrasse fish – but she’s had daring adventures too – swimming with a shark or snorkelling through kelp. Several of the Young Ocean Explorers gurus mention adventure as the inspiration to be a scientist. find out more about Riley and her dad Steve Hathaway who teamed up to produce the Young Ocean Explorers video series and Love Our Ocean book.

    Rights: Richard Robinson

    Riley in the kelp

    Riley has plenty of underwater adventures, but snorkelling through kelp was one of her most daring. She overcame her fear of crabs to find an amazing marine ecosystem.

    I like swimming in the ocean and seeing other animals the best. It is like flying, but under water, you feel weightless.

    Craig Thorburn

    Working for change

    Riley’s inspiration came from a school project. When she discovered that turtles, one of her favourite animals, accidentally eat plastic floating in the ocean, she researched the topic and made a video. The enthusiastic reaction of her brother’s year 6 class led to the start of the Young Ocean Explorers series. By getting young people engaged with the marine environment, Riley hopes they are more likely to protect it.

    A new vaccine for TB

    Dr Joanna Kirman leads a team at the Malaghan Institute investigating a new vaccine for tuberculosis (TB).

    Working for change inspires most scientists – whether they are the marine gurus in Young Ocean Explorers, climate change scientists or medical specialists. The desire to improve people’s lives or the environment is one of the things that attracts people to science and keeps them in their jobs.

    Nature of science

    Although it is reliable and durable, scientific knowledge is subject to change in the light of new evidence or new interpretation of existing evidence. The quest to find something new is what inspires and motivates many scientists.

    Related content

    The article Working as a scientist provides a very brief overview of dozens of scientists featured on the Hub. Use it to discover some of the reasons people choose a science-related career, and some of things you can do if you are curious to begin a career in science.

    See the series of articles In Her Nature: New Zealand women changing the way we connect with the world around us, exploring New Zealand women scientists working at the intersection of people and nature.

    Science over time: Standing on the shoulders of giants curates stories of some of the great scientists featured on the Hub.

    The article Working in the space sector highlights the diversity of jobs and opportunities available in this fast-growing field.

    Activity ideas

    The activity Scientist introduction encourages students to take a closer look at a scientist’s background and work. Ask students to choose a scientist of interest to them from this article. Students can find out more about the scientists and their work by typing their names in the Hub’s search function. Use the questions in the activity as a beginning framework to ‘introduce’ the scientists to the class.

    Do some blue-sky thinking about how and where tamariki and rangatahi might see themselves in the space industry. Can I work in the space industry? uses videos, statements and personal dispositions to explore their space in this growing industry.

    Like graphic novels? To be a scientist is a ready-to-use cross-curricular teaching resource. It uses the Connected graphic biography Betty Batham: Biologist. Betty was a ground-breaking female scientist ahead of her time.

    Useful links

    Read about Wade Doak and his long association with marine adventure and conservation in this NZ Herald new article here.

    Go here to purchase a copy of the Young Ocean Explorers DVD and Love Our Ocean book.

      Published 23 January 2016 Referencing Hub articles
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