Science and Discovery in the Grand Canyon

The view of the meandering Colorado River from a ledge below the Nankoweap Granaries. Photo: Joe Proudman/UC Davis

The view of the meandering Colorado River from a ledge below the Nankoweap Granaries. Photo: Joe Proudman/UC Davis

Solutions

  • Create a multimedia website
  • 360° video
  • Interactive map
  • First-person narrative pieces
  • Stunning photography
  • Involve the students in trip documentation
  • Invite science reporter to participate in the trip’s second half

Goal

Feature an innovative learning experience that demonstrates UC Davis’ strengths in science, cross-discipline collaboration and problem solving. In 2016, a writer and videographer from Strategic Communication were invited by an ecogeomorphology class to come along for the first half of their field trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon — 135 miles of river in eight days — to capture their adventure and firsthand lessons in hydrology, geology and ecology.

Results

The Grand Canyon website received 11,309 pageviews and nearly 500,000 impressions on social media in its first three weeks. Views and engagement with the site are expected to increase following sponsored content with the Chronicle of Higher Education and Sierra Magazine, and additional social media targeting.

The website is also attracting students to the ecogeomorphology class, which culminates in this trip, as class leaders in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Center for Watershed Sciences, and Campus Recreation and Union’s Outdoor Adventures have posted it on their websites and social media channels, as well.

Amy Quinton, an environmental reporter with Sacramento’s NPR affiliate station Capital Public Radio, participated in the trip’s second half, with a new group of students. The multimedia site she created enabled Strategic Communications to instruct users to “finish the trip,” effectively covering the entire journey. Her 15-minute story about the trip was heard by thousands of radio listeners.

360° video of Lee’s Ferry on the Colorado River

To best experience 360° videos on a desktop computer, do not use the Safari browser. To view on mobile devices, install the YouTube app on your phone or tablet.