Oceanographer David Gallo shared his experiences with Ticonderoga Middle School students recently through a video conference.
David Gallo has been to great depths, literally and figuratively.
Gallo was a poor student who struggled with Attention Deficit Disorder. Today he’s a world-renown oceanographer who has explored the Titanic.
He shared his experiences with Ticonderoga Middle School students recently through a video conference.
“I could show you my report cards,” Gallo said. “I was not a very good student. I really struggled with ADD. I just wanted to crawl into a ball and hoped no one would bother me. I realize now that’s the worst thing you can do.”
Gallo eventually found his way to Schenectady Community College, where he learned two important lessons.
“I learned I had to work harder than everyone else,” he said. “I took a lot of notes and I would study three hours for every 40 minutes in class. I realized that’s what I had to do to get from here to there. I don’t care where you go to college. College is what you make of it.
“I also learned it’s OK to ask for help,” he said. “There are amazing people all around us who want to help. Just ask them.”
Gallo went on to earn his doctorate degree and now works at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, the world’s largest private, non-profit oceanographic research institution. It’s a global leader in the study and exploration of the ocean.
The world’s oceans are amazing, Gallo told students.
“Today we’ve only explored about 3 percent of what’s out there in the ocean,” he said. “Already we’ve found the world’s highest mountains, the world’s deepest valleys, underwater lakes, underwater waterfalls. There’s still 97 percent, and either that 97 percent is empty or just full of surprises.”
Gallo has participated in expeditions to all of the world’s oceans and was one of the first scientists to use a combination of robots and submarines to explore the deep sea floor. He co-led an expedition to create the first detailed and comprehensive map of the Titanic and the German battleship Bismarck. He co-led the successful international effort to locate the wreckage of Air France Flight 447 that crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.
The scientist shared his experiences with students.
“The Titanic can be kinda of creepy, but really cool,” he said. “You open the door to one room and its nothing but mud and rust. The next room might be perfectly intact. I’ve seen rooms on the Titanic with sheets and pillows on the bed, clothes still hanging on the coat hack, with items sitting on the dresser like nothing ever happened.”
He also discussed underwater lakes, ocean life, currents, global warming and more.
“Every time you say something can’t live there, there’s life,” he said. “It’s amazing how life thrives. There are amazing creatures in the oceans.”
Gallo admitted to students he loves to play video games.
“I do play; I love to play,” he said. “But the stuff going on in science is a lot more exciting than video games. In a video game someone knows every answer. When you’re in the ocean you never know what’s coming. You’re discovering new things every day.”
Gallo has gained recognition for appearing on many television news programs and documentaries. He is also a TED presenter.
TED is a nonprofit group devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from the worlds of technology, entertainment and design. Along with two annual conferences, TED includes the a TED Talks video site. The videos challenge leaders in their fields to “give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less.”
With more than 8 million views Gallo’s TED presentation “Underwater Astonishments” is among the top five TED Talks viewed to date. It can be seen online at http://www.ted.com/talks/david_gallo_shows_underwater_astonishments.html.
Gallo mingles with people like Bill Gates, Brad Pitt, Angeline Jolie and other celebrities at the TED conferences.
“These are people who have changed the world; they’re billionaires and movie stars,” Gallo said. “You’re not going to out-do these people. I just try to be myself. It turns out everyone respects each other.”
Gallo’s video conference was arranged by Frank Shaw, a science teacher at Ti Middle School. A navy submarine veteran, Shaw has known Gallo for more than 25 years.
“When I was in the Navy I worked with some specialized equipment that was used in a couple of scientific studies,” Shaw said. “I actually went out to sea with Bob Ballard (who led the expedition that found the Titanic wreckage) a few times and met David. He’s a great guy and loves talking to the students.”
Shaw believes Gallo has a great message for students.
“Before we can get kids into STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programs, they have to believe they can do it,” Shaw said. “David’s message is that they can do it. He overcame ADD, went to a community college and learned to love science. Our kids can do this, too.”