Dejon King pictured up front left

Dejon King (holding device) is pictured aboard the exploration vessel Nautilus.

Carver High School student Dejon King and Ryan Sweat, an educator at Eisenhower High School, recently shared their exciting adventure in August aboard the exploration vessel Nautilus where they joined the team led by Dr. Robert Ballard. In April, [icons icon_name=”icon-external-link” icon_size=”14px”] JASON Learning named King and Sweat “Argonauts” to participate in the expedition. Ballard, famous for his underwater explorations, founded JASON Learning, a nonprofit organization and partnership between [icons icon_name=”icon-external-link” icon_size=”14px”] National Geographic and the [icons icon_name=”icon-external-link” icon_size=”14px”] Sea Research Foundation, in 1989 to inspire students to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and to preserve the marine environment. JASON’s Argonaut program facilitates first-hand interactions with scientists in a hands-on learning environment.

Ballard’s underwater discoveries have included finding the shipwreck of the Titanic, the German battleship Bismarck, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown and the patrol torpedo boat John F. Kennedy commanded in World War II. He also led a mission to the Black Sea, locating several ancient shipwrecks.

In his latest mission, Ballard is leading a rotating team of 150 scientists, engineers, educators and students to map the geological, biological, chemical and archaeological aspects of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Using remotely operated vehicles, the team is taking high definition video, environmental measurements and collecting samples of the ocean floor.

King and Sweat, who were at Grantham Academy when they were chosen to participate, formed the group of 14 JASON Argonauts — 10 students and 4 educators from across the U.S. — for the summer of 2013. Both joined the expedition from August 13-20 as the Nautilus transited from the Bahamas to Grand Cayman. This first group consisted of five students and two educators. They got to meet Ballard and Dr. Katherine “Katy” Croff Bell, another well-known ocean explorer, as well as learned firsthand what deep-sea research expeditions entail.

Pictured left to right: Ryan Sweat, Dr. Croff-Bell, and Dr. Ballard

Pictured (l-r) are Ryan Sweat, Dr. Katherine “Katy” Croff Bell, and Dr. Robert Ballard.

“Meeting Dr. Ballard has inspired me to explore career paths in oceanography,” said King. “I hope to one day follow in his footsteps and discover things hidden deep on the ocean floor.”

While on the Nautilus, King and Sweat participated in live, interactive webcasts. The 2013 expedition, which is taking a break in September to avoid the peak hurricane season but will resume in October, can be followed in real-time at and at the Nautilus Live Theater at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT. The Argonauts’ work aboard the Nautilus was featured through blogs, photos and live events at

“You literally woke up every day of the expedition anxious to discover what new and exciting things you were going to do,” related Sweat.

Laura Batt, director of educational programs for JASON Learning, joined the Argonauts aboard the Nautilus in August.

“This program allows students to experience real research in real-time alongside scientists and engineers, and they get to go on expeditions and work alongside scientists in the field using the latest technology,” said Batt.

Walking the Grand-Cayman

Dejon King (center) is pictured with fellow JASON Argonauts hiking the Mastic Trail in Grand Cayman.

After spending four days on the Nautilus, the Argonauts spent two days on Grand Cayman before flying back to the United States. This was an opportunity for the group to explore the rich natural and cultural heritage of Cayman. The group went on a National Trust for the Cayman Islands’ guided tour of the Mastic Trail and snorkeled the reef and the Stingray City sandbar.

“Visiting Grand Cayman Island opened my eyes to new cultural experiences,” King related. “The food, the people and the island itself exposed me to a different way of life that I really enjoyed being a part of.”

Since 1990, JASON’s Argonaut program has provided hands-on, scientific field work to more than 450 competitively selected students and educators worldwide, many of who have gone on to pursue degrees and careers in science. JASON Argonauts serve as ambassadors of the JASON Project and role models for teachers and students participating in the program.

“By joining this expedition, Dejon and Ryan served as role models to millions of students and educators worldwide,” commented Dr. Stephen M. Coan, president and CEO of the Sea Research Foundation.

“Overall, this trip was an unforgettable experience that introduced me to the wonders of the ocean and how exciting it is to discover something new!” exclaimed King.

JASON reaches 2 million students a year and general audiences of more than six million. Its programs are used in every U.S. state and in more than 170 countries.

JASON-Argonauts-Original-3In June of 2012, Chevron selected Aldine ISD as one of only three Houston-area school districts to participate in the JASON Project. Chevron presented AISD with a $254,631 check to fund the district’s middle school students’ participation in the award-winning program and training for 21 teachers. The internationally acclaimed exploration-based program links students — inside the classroom and out — to real science and scientist through technology, inquiry-based curricular experiences. The selection of one teacher and one student as JASON Argonauts served as the culminating experience of the program.

Sweat is grateful to Chevron’s support.

“I thank Chevron for the corporation’s dedicated support of education and STEM courses,” commented Sweat.

King’s mom is also grateful for how the program has impacted him.

“I am thankful to Chevron, Aldine ISD and The Jason Project for impacting my son and his future,” added Diane King. “He now has an even greater understanding of how people in the science and engineering fields work together to impact the entire world.”


The archive of the August live event from the Nautilus is found on the [icons icon_name=”icon-external-link” icon_size=”14px”] JASON website and on the YouTube page link below. To see King and Sweat discuss their experience on the expedition, their segment on the video begins around the 14-minute marker and ends approximately at the 19-minute marker.

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