In honor of World Oceans Day, the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) and Nickelodeon will today launch “Science of SpongeBob,” a new initiative based on the iconic SpongeBob SquarePants animated series that will introduce kids and families to the science that inspired the undersea world of Bikini Bottom and its beloved inhabitants. With the help of Natural History Museum (NHM) experts, audiences will learn about a variety of scientific disciplines, including marine biology, paleontology, ichthyology, and mammalogy, as well as the scientific discovery process that contributed to the creation and development of SpongeBob, which has reigned as the number one animated series on television in the US for the last 18 years. Dynamic videos, activities and live programs with NHM scientists and educators will kick off today at NHM.ORG/spongebob.
There’s lot of science, wrapped up in cartoon entertainment. Below is a trailer so you can see for yourself.
“We are thrilled to be working with Nickelodeon again on a program that demonstrates the excitement of scientific research and discovery, as well as the range of career pathways available in Museum Science,” said Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, President and Director of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County. “As we continue to encourage scientific exploration and share our research and collections, we hope that kids and families are inspired to take responsibility for the care of our natural world.”
NHMLAC has collaborated with Nickelodeon to create eight videos featuring scientists from NHM’s Research and Collections department that feature clips from episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants that demonstrate how science has been incorporated into the beloved TV show, its characters and storylines. In addition to providing information on the underwater ecosystems that comprise the world of Bikini Bottom by exploring various topics, the videos will feature behind-the-scenes looks at NHM’s collections, allowing access to many items rarely seen by the public. Scientists will also share some tips for overcoming ocean fears, how to observe marine life, and break down misconceptions about marine science. Plus, viewers can learn about the real-life ocean animals that SpongeBob and the citizens of Bikini Bottom are based on, the small steps individuals can take to protect the oceans, how scientists create unique species names, the different types of ocean habitats, deep sea dangers, prehistoric Bikini Bottom, silly sea facts, and more.
“SpongeBob SquarePants has entertained and educated audiences about marine life for more than 20 years, and we are so excited to partner with NHMLAC to honor the legacy of series creator Stephen Hillenburg through ‘Science of SpongeBob,’ which brings the characters and world of Bikini Bottom to life with engaging, accessible and informative content,” said David Bruson, Director, Public Affairs, Nickelodeon.
A video featuring Dr. Regina Wetzer, Director of NHM’s Marine Biodiversity Center, and Kathy Omura, Collections Manager of NHM’s Marine Biodiversity Center, explains how scientists name new species and provides two examples, a type of sea star named after Patrick Star and a crustacean named after the microplastics found in its stomach. Viewers will also learn about whale poop and its beneficial impact on the marine ecosystem with Dr. Jorge Velez-Juarbe, Associate Curator of Mammalogy (Marine Mammals); the details of sea snail teeth with Dr. Jann Vendetti, Associate Curator of Malacology; and what SpongeBob SquarePants, Squidward Tentacles and Patrick Star’s distant relatives might have looked like with Dr. Austin Hendy, Assistant Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology.
Visitors can also participate in fun at-home activities, including steps to create an ocean diorama, start an ocean journal, make a sea turtle puppet, and more. In July, additional DIY activities developed by NHM’s 2021 Marine Science Interns will help audiences continue their at-home exploration with simple step-by-step activities and projects.
Audiences can also join virtual events in June and July with NHM’s experts and educators for some deep dives into the sea. From home, viewers can explore the ocean through a series of events looking at easy-to-access environments like tidepools, NHM’s Mobile Museums and so much more.
Current Programming Schedule
Tuesday, June 8 at 11 am – Dive into the Science of SpongeBob: Ocean Plastics and the Future of Bikini Bottom
Welcome to the Science of SpongeBob! All month long, join NHMLAC researchers, educators, and special guests as we dive into ocean learning with topics exploring the real species behind the show’s Bikini Bottom characters, in partnership with Nickelodeon. To celebrate World Oceans Day, we’re kicking things off with Dr. Britta Baechler, Senior Manager of Ocean Plastics Research at Ocean Conservancy, as she helps us break down ocean plastics and microplastics, the impact these have on marine life, and what kids and grown ups can do to protect our oceans. Learn more here.
Thursday, June 10 at 11 am – Dive into the Science of SpongeBob: Get to Know Gary the Sea Snail!
Join Dr. Jann Vendetti, NHM’s Associate Curator of Malacology, and Museum Educator Steven Mendoza to explore the fascinating world of snails! Uncover fact and fiction about the real life species behind SpongeBob’s beloved pet sea snail, Gary, and discover the different ways these animals use their slime, teeth and shell for everyday survival. Learn more here.
Tuesday, June 15 at 11 am – Dive into the Science of SpongeBob: All About Pearl
Explore the mighty world of whales with Dr. Jorge Velez-Juarbe, NHM’s Associate Curator of Mammalogy, and Museum Educator Diana Sanchez! From its large teeth and unique skull shape to its use of echolocation, learn how the real species of sperm whale inspired the character of Pearl. Learn more here.
Thursday, June 17 at 11 am – Dive into the Science of SpongeBob: Swimmin’ with the Fishes
Discover some of the spectacularly strange and surprising fishes that swim beneath the ocean’s surface–and not just in Bikini Bottom! Join Dr. Bill Ludt, Assistant Curator of Ichthyology at NHM, and Museum Educator Michelle Vanegas as they tackle some fascinating fish facts and explore the various species featured in the SpongeBob universe. Learn more here.
Visit NHM.ORG/spongebob for full information regarding additional virtual events through July.
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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