Beneath the Waves Film Festival: A Smashing Success

(The first night’s poster session. There were about 180 people in attendance)

After 5 months of planning the Beneath the Waves Film Festival finally arrived at Florida Tech last month. Both Thursday and Friday were a huge success. We received one last news brief from Space Coast Daily before the event which was unexpected. The write up did a great job explaining the event and the mission of Beneath the Waves Inc. The first night of films was geared more toward an adult audience with longer films. The biological sciences graduate students showcased their research in poster format during the reception before the films. About 180 people were in attendance. We were excited to see so many people attend and interact with the graduate students. Erica Staaterman and Austin Gallagher (co-directors for Beneath the Waves) were also in attendance the first night. They both sat on the panel and helped field questions from the audience regarding the Beneath the Waves mission, apex predators (sharks) and larval recruitment on oyster reefs.

The format for the second night’s film festival was slightly different. We geared it toward a K-12 audience. We asked the graduate students to switch out their research posters for interactive activities, demonstrations or lessons to better engage a younger audience. We had about 300 parents, teachers and students attended night two. The students loved the films and many stayed after the festival to participate in the panel discussion. My favorite part of the film festival was the students asking the panel questions, which were challenging. Getting students engaged was the goal of the event. Dozens of  K-12 students stepped up to the microphone after the films and asked the panel questions about muck being harmful to humans, fish feeding morphology, seagrass decline, the manatee effect on seagrass, sea turtles hatching success and many more. We received many compliments after the event from community members who encouraged us to do this again next year. Both Lauren and I hope to bring Beneath the Waves back to Florida Tech next year!

Birds eye view of Gleason before the start of the film festival on Thursday night.
Birds eye view of Gleason before the start of the film festival on Thursday night.
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