How Can Robots Help Us Understand the Ocean? I'm enjoying creating Skype in the Classroom lessons about the marine robotics and the ocean, and interacting with teachers and students.
Today I talked about the ocean and living underwater with girls in the Boston Science Club for Girls at the Denver McCormick Middle School in Dorchester. The Science Club for Girls is a terrific program with such a worthy goal. The four instructors were incredibly patient and qualified; one had just come back from the Peace Corp and another had a degree in physics. After telling the girls about Aquarius, they did experiments with cans in water to help understand the concept of buoyancy. As they thought about air, buoyancy and fish, one girl brightly asked if fish fart! The surprising answer to this question actually won an Ig Nobel Prize, awards given just before the Nobel Prizes to scientific research that at first makes people laugh, and then think! Regarding buoyancy, did you know that a can of Diet Coke floats but a can of regular Coke sinks? Try it! (reason why is here).
Yesterday I spent four hours talking to K-3 students about the ocean, and showed them some robots I've worked on. Best question: "Can you turn this building into a cow?"
They were so curious about everything, but spent most of the time saying hilarious things! Every 10 minutes or so someone would ask if I would get eaten by a shark, or I'd show them a piece of SCUBA gear, and they'd say, "What if a shark ate that?" I said sharks will really only eat you if you smell like blood and maybe look like a turtle. "You'd better not wear your ninja turtle costume under water!" one smartly said. I truly enjoyed my time with these students.
More great questions from this group are posted here.
P.S. After my visit, these amazing students built an underwater research house, complete with electricity! I want to go to school there! A lesson plan from NOAA ocean education for building an underwater habitat is here: Aquarius Technology: Building an Underwater Habitat. Enjoy!
Grace Young (B.S., MIT, Ph.D, Oxford) is an ocean engineer, aquanaut, and explorer currently working at X. She lived underwater as a scientist and engineer on Fabian Cousteau’s Mission 31, and is a National Geographic Explorer.