Pearson Sponsors SnotBots to Help Scientists Study Whales

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New drone program safely collects samples for study

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Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, today announced that it is partnering with the Ocean Alliance and the Olin College of Engineering to help sponsor its SnotBot project - one that aims to aid in the study of whales without interfering with the animals or disrupting their normal activities.

A “SnotBot” is a drone that flies well-above the water’s surface and collects samples of blow from whales (hence the term “snot”) without causing any stress or injury to the animals. The samples are then analyzed by scientists to gather data on the health and well-being of the whale. The project was conceived by the Ocean Alliance and Olin College of Engineering and has garnered a lot of social media attention and support. It even claims Patrick Stewart as its spokesperson in a clever Kickstarter funding campaign, which has been fully funded.

The partnership was sparked by the interest of two of Pearson’s renowned science authors, Dr. Kenneth Miller and Dr. Joseph Levine. They were intrigued with the idea of collecting important scientific data while doing no harm to the animals. Once they found out how the SnotBot project was going to advance the study of whales and heard it needed some financial support, they were in agreement; they wanted to get Pearson on board with a sponsorship.

“Once in a while, dedicated people catalyze positive change in unexpected ways. And every now and then, out-of-the-box thinking creates a new use for existing technology with the potential to transform our understanding of the living world. The folks at the Ocean Alliance and their collaborators at Olin College are dedicated people, and their “SnotBot” project has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of whales and, by extension, the marine environments in which they play a crucial role,” Dr. Joseph Levine, co-author, Pearson’s Miller & Levine Biology.

In response to the partnership, Dr. Roger Payne, Founder and President of the Ocean Alliance, had this to say. “We can only protect what we understand and understand what we are taught. As a world leader in providing educational tools, we are excited that Pearson Education is helping us to develop and deploy new tools for wildlife research and conservation. Pearson continues to lead the way - for that, we and thousands of students worldwide are very grateful.”

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About the Ocean Alliance

Ocean Alliance, headquartered in Gloucester, MA, has spent the past 44 years developing new technologies to help us better understand our oceans. In 1967, founder Roger Payne used underwater microphones to discover that whales sing songs, featured in National Geographic Magazine. You may have seen the album "Songs of the Humpback Whale" - that recording is on the Voyager spacecraft as a greeting to other civilizations from the inhabitants of Earth! We partner with leading research organizations worldwide, conducting the first global expedition to establish a baseline data set on ocean pollution, covered by PBS. Recently, we conducted a five-year toxicology study in the Gulf of Mexico documenting the effects of the BP oil disaster. For more information about the Ocean Alliance, visit

About Miller & Levine Biology

Authors Dr. Kenneth Miller and Dr. Joseph Levine are authors of Pearson’s Miller & Levine Biology, a high school Biology program that launched in 1998 and is now used in over half the high school Biology classrooms in the United States.

About Pearson

Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 80 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning. For more information about Pearson, visit

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