BGAN Hangouts

BGAN Hangouts: Opening the World to Classrooms

In our quest to bring the most remote places on our planet into classrooms, we've purchased satellite BGAN units. These portable satellite terminals are the size of textbooks and make it possible to video broadcast from anywhere on the planet. These units are usually used by journalists in the field or people searching for minerals in remote locations. We saw the potential application for education and have been testing to their limits!
Our BGANs have travelled over 120,468 kms!!!

Cousteau: Our First Unit

Cousteau is an Explorer 710, capable of streaming video at 650 kb/s from pretty much anywhere in the world. Named in honour of Jacques Cousteau, the French undersea explorer, researcher, photographer and documentary host. Born on June 11, 1910, in Saint-André-de-Cubzac, France, he invented diving and scuba devices, including the Aqua-Lung. He also conducted underwater expeditions and produced films and television series, including the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. In 1945, he started the French Navy's undersea research group. In 1951, he began going on yearly trips to explore the ocean on his ship, the Calypso. Cousteau recorded his trips on the TV series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.

Journey One: Abaco's Blue Holes

In December 2016, a highly experienced team of cave diving explorers is gathered together in Abaco, Bahamas to explore, survey and share images and stories from one of the most remarkable and stunning underwater caves on earth. Sponsored by National Geographic, the project aims to employ cutting edge technology including VR, AR, 3D imaging techniques as well as novel collaborative approaches to studying and documenting these submerged museums of natural history.

Journey 2: Puno, Peru

Cousteau was held by Peruvian customs in Lima, essentially for a shakedown by the Ministry of Communications and Transportation. Good news is we were able to recover it and Cousteau will be headed back to Canada!

Journey 3: Ka'Kabish, Belize

Cousteau is currently on its way to Belize with Dr. Helen Haines to the site of an archeological dig on the remains of a Mayan city called Ka'Kabish! We'll be doing a series of broadcasts every Wednesday @ 1pm eastern from the site, starting May 17th. Ka'Kabish is a medium-size city in north-central Belize located approximately 10 km from the larger, and more famous, site of Lamanai. Little was known about Ka'Kabish prior to the start of the Ka'Kabish Archaeological research project in 2007. Archaeological investigations have been on-going since 2007 and are currently provide field school and research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students through Trent University, Canada. We'll connect for a series of hangouts from the field over the next two months to check on the progress of this exciting field work!

Journey 4: Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique

Cousteau is currently in Mozambique with National Geographic Big Cat Initiative Grantee Paola Bouley. As we celebrate Big Cat Week, she'll do an Explorer Classroom live from the park on December 13th @ 10am eastern. Paola is the co-founder and Associate Director of Lion Conservation in Gorongosa National Park. She is a conservation ecologist dedicated to securing post-war recovery of Gorongosa's lion, leopard and hyena populations. She leads a team of boots-on-the-ground conservationists and the first, formal big cat conservation and research program to be established since the park’s founding. Her work includes strategic collaboration with the park's ranger force and community education team. She launched a rapid-response veterinary unit to rescue lions caught by snares and steel-jaw traps set by illegal bushmeat poachers and trained lion anti-poaching patrols to secure core lion and leopard habitats. Her team deployed the first-ever GPS collars on lions and leopards in the greater Gorongosa ecosystem that opened the world of these elusive populations and helped ensure their survival during difficult times of poaching and conflict.

Attenborough: Our Second Unit

Attenborough is a Hughes 9211, capable of streaming video at 650 kb/s from pretty much anywhere on the planet. Named in honour of David Attenborough who was born in London, England, in 1926. After studying the natural sciences at the University of Cambridge, he began his career as a producer at the BBC, where he launched the successful Zoo Quest series. Attenborough was made controller of BBC Two in 1965 and later its director of programming. During his tenure the station crossed over to colour television, and Attenborough was instrumental in expanding its natural history content. Attenborough left the BBC to begin writing and producing various series, including the smash hit Life on Earth, which set the standards for the modern nature documentary. Since then Attenborough has written, produced, hosted and narrated countless award-winning nature-focused programs and has devoted his life to celebrating and preserving wildlife.

Journey One: Clipperton Atoll

The 2017 Clipperton expedition is led and organized by the co-owners of N2Pix, a Canadian company specializing in underwater imagery. The expedition leaders, Michel Labrecque and Julie Ouimet, have been travelling the world for many years. During the last few years, they have been particularly involved in ocean and shark conservation efforts. Clipperton atoll, also known as Ile de la Passion, is a French Overseas Territory. The atoll is considered to be the most isolated atoll on the planet. It is located in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP), 1,280 km away from Acapulco and 945 km away from the closest landmass, Socorro Island in the Revillagigedo Archipelago. A special authorization is required to set foot on the atoll as well as to enter a 12- nautical-mile zone around it.
We successfully completed the first ever live broadcast from Clipperton Atoll with expedition leaders Michel Labrecque and Julie Ouimet! We took classrooms to the most remote coral atoll on the planet to learn about threats to this remote ecosystem, shark science and marine debris. Not a bad way to break in our new BGAN unit! A lot had to go right including weather, surf and technology. Clipperton Atoll is very difficult to land on and one of the zodiacs flipped trying to reach the shore, luckily no one was hurt!

Journey Two: Vietnam

Last June I met ultra runner Greg Nance at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, DC. It was during this meeting that we hatched a scheme to take students along on his next ultra marathon, 100km through the mountainous jungles of Vietnam. Greg Nance is on a mission to inspire students to get active outdoors. Greg is the founder of, a mentorship platform that’s helped students earn over $24 Million in university scholarships. His favourite adventures include running 250KM across the Gobi Desert, solo climbing Mont Blanc, and swimming across the Nile River.

Journey Three: Guatemala

In November 2017, Attenborough departed with National Geographic Explorers Stephanie Grocke, Ross Donihue, and Gabby Salazar embarked on a month-long expedition to Guatemala. While there they conducted innovative science on the top of an active volcano in Guatemala while also producing a multimedia outreach campaign that highlighted the risks associated with living near an active lava dome. Stephanie, a volcanologist, applied cutting-edge photogrammetry techniques to the active Santiaguito lava dome in Guatemala, to monitor volcanic activity using ground-based, time-lapse photography. Gabby and Ross, both visual storytellers, used multimedia to bridge the gaps between volcanologists and the hundreds of thousands of people that live within ~10 km of the active Santiaguito volcano, in the city of Quetzaltenango. Working in collaboration, this team connected the scientists studying volcanoes to the people living around them.

Earle: Our Third Unit

National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence Dr. Sylvia A. Earle, is an oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer with experience as a field research scientist, government official, and director for corporate and non-profit organizations. Formerly Chief Scientist of NOAA, she has a B.S. degree from Florida State University, M.S. and PhD. from Duke University, 20 honorary degrees and has authored more than 175 scientific, technical, and popular publications, lectured in more than 70 countries, and appeared in hundreds of radio and television productions. She has led more than 100 expeditions and logged more than 7000 hours underwater including leading the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970, participating in nine saturation dives, and setting a record for solo diving in 1000 meters depth.

Journey One: Tahiti

Shark scientist Ornella Weideli is on expedition in Tahiti and brought Earle along for the ride. The plan was to do an on call hangout while tagging sharks. We had a great test call, but then as luck would have it, it rained the next two nights, keeping them from the field! Stay tuned for future hangouts with Ornella!

Journey Two: Caño Cristales River, Colombia

Earle journeyed into the Colombian rainforest to broadcast live from the Caño Cristales River. The Caño Cristales River is an amazing river deep in the jungle of Colombia, South America. The river is sometimes called “Liquid Rainbow” because from June until December, the waters turns bright shades, primarily of red, but also of yellow, violet and blue. The river was little known outside of the region until recently. What are the effects of climate change and human activity on the red river’s future? Adventure team Peter Rowe and Brianna Rowe explored the river and documented their findings. In order to help try to preserve this natural phenomena, Peter took photographs for his book Red Planet and Brianna videoconferenced live from the river. Peter Rowe and daughter Brianna Rowe have explored volcanos in Indonesia and Guatemala for Peter’s adventure television series Angry Planet. The Caño Cristales River was their third Explorers Club flag expedition.

Journey Three: Botswana

In January, Earle is journeying to Africa, to the country of Botswana with National Geographic Explorer and Big Cats Initiative grantee Andrew Stein. Andrew has 15 years experience working on human-carnivore conflict throughout Eastern and Southern Africa. His work draws upon his interest in wildlife ecology, culture, and engaging with communities to develop pragmatic solutions to challenging issues in the field. His previous work includes studies of African wild dogs and lions in Laikipia, Kenya, and leopards on farmlands in the Soutpansberg, South Africa, and Waterberg region of Namibia. After completing his Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Stein headed a field camp overseeing ecological research on lions, leopards, cheetahs, African wild dogs, and spotted hyenas in northern Botswana. In 2015, Dr. Stein founded the CLAWS Conservancy (Communities Living Among Wildlife Sustainably), a nonprofit organization established to provide innovative approaches to promote human-wildlife coexistence. Andrew is an Assistant Professor at Landmark College in Vermont.

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Upcoming Lessons:

February 26, 2018

1:00 pm to 1:45 pm EST

February 26, 2018

1:00 pm to 1:45 pm EST

February 27, 2018

12:00 pm to 12:45 pm EST

February 27, 2018

2:00 pm to 2:45 pm EST