Monday, July 14, 2014

Waterstart Week 2

Week 2 was a whirl! Not only did we have another batch of excited and attentive beginning scuba divers, but we made progress with our summer ROV fun as well.

What a dive! 

This past week we gave the Waterstart students the chance to build ROVs of their own. Using just clothes hangers, ping-pong balls, duct tape, small motors, and wires, the students worked in groups to design, build, and test-drive their prototypes. As mentioned in last week’s post, Bermuda Program interns J.D. and Kweshon have been taking the lead on the Waterstart ROV activities.

As graduates of Waterstart and the Marine Science Internship program, J.D. and Kweshon are now taking on more of a leadership role both out on the boat, and in the classroom.  They have BIOS logbooks that date back to 2006, and now you can catch them hauling anchor on Polaris and giving demos in the Clark Lab. The scaffolding of education programs at BIOS allows for this progression of skill development and responsibility, and it’s a lot of fun to see them work. For this week’s activity, Kweshon introduced the students to the significance and many uses of ROV and AUV technology, and then gave them a quick run-through of the materials before letting them give it a go.

Kweshon gives students tips and tricks for adjusting the buoyancy of the ROV. 

The lab was abuzz. With ping-pong balls, rubber bands, sparks, and ideas flying, we knew from the start that the designs would be good. When the creative chaos subsided, we took the ROVs out to a freshwater tank to let the piloting begin.

Alex gives her group some vision in the design of the "H.M.S. Sinkable."

We were struck by the three unique strategies—one ROV was designed to glide the surface, another to dive straight down, and the third to make diagonal dives. The students discussed what each ROV design could be used for out in the open ocean—they mentioned everything from surface-temperature monitoring to deep sea specimen collection—and what modifications they would make in future prototypes.

The team shows off its ROV down at the dock. 

Of course, all of this R&D took place in between our typical scuba instruction. Whalebone Bay, Gibbets, and Cooper’s Island made for excellent confined water training grounds; and once again, we topped off the great week with a mesmerizing open water dive at Hourglass Reef—where each and every glittering fry was enough of a reminder as to why we explore life underwater.

Already, Week 3 is off to a great start. Kweshon and the team will continue to develop the ROV lesson, we will share real-time data from BIOS’s very own AUV glider, and 26 more campers will discover the wonderful world of scuba diving and ocean science.

Alex and Haley enjoy a snorkel at Whalebone Bay. 

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The Waterstart Team

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