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Guam Citizen Scientists

June 10 2018
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Student science teams in Guam will build the OpenRov 2.8s. Each team will be matched with a Marine Scientist from the University of Guam or a local Government agency. The teams will perform a six week summer monitoring session at their chosen site, and then present their data to their partner agency.

June 10 2018

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Preparation Stage

In order to make our project happen, we need to get really good at driving and fixing these little robots. With that in mind Erin Derrington, Live Ocean board member and fellow facilitator, flew down from Saipan for the weekend so we could do some test dives. We started out with some propeller repair, since one of my props flew off at the DAWR event; fortunately it was inside a kiddie pool so I had no trouble retrieving it. I think for future builds I will put a little locktight on those bad boys.
She brought a ROV down with her, the goal was for them to run together and get video of each other. We spent a few hours trying to figure out how to get the chrome book to save video from the stream. Despite trying several chrome book apps, google hangouts, and YouTube Live, we were unable to get it to work. They do have great battery life, though! My own laptop will only run the robot and the video software for about 45 minutes. Undeterred, we headed out to Piti for a test dive at one of our student sites, the outflow from the Piti powerplant. It was pretty uneventful until we got our wires crossed, literally. Erin was running tether for me, and got her tether too close to the computer running the other bot. Suddenly, I was controlling her bot, which was spinning its propellers on land. I could dive, move left and right, but only on the WRONG robot. I couldn’t control mine at all, we had to power cycle both bots to straighten things out. We also had a few issues with random power loss, and some buoyancy issues. We recovered some marine debris (including the wheel hub pictured in the video) and learned a lot. Off to the deep dive, tomorrow!

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So exciting to be part of this effort to expand citizen science and community engagement throughout the Marianas!

In order to make our project happen, we need to get really good at driving and fixing these little robots. With that in mind Erin Derrington, Live Ocean board member and fellow facilitator, flew down from Saipan for the weekend so we could do some test dives. We started out with some propeller repair, One of my props flew off at the DAWR event, fortunately it was inside a kiddie pool so I had no trouble retrieving it. I think for future builds I will put a little locktight on those bad boys.
She brought an ROV down with her, the goal was for them to run together and get video of each other. We spent a few hours trying to figure out how to get the chrome book to save video from the stream. Despite trying several chrome book apps, google hangouts, and YouTube Live, we were unable to get it to work. They do have great battery life, though! My own laptop will only run the robot and the video software for about 45 minutes. Undeterred, we headed out to Piti for a test dive at one of our student sites, the outflow from the Piti powerplant. It was pretty uneventful, until we got our wires crossed, literally. Erin was running tether for me, and got her tether to close to the computer running the other bot. Suddenly, I was controlling her bot, which was spinning its propellers on land. I could dive, move left and right, but only on the WRONG robot. I couldn’t control mine at all, we had to power cycle both bots to straighten things out. We also had a few issues with random power loss, and some buoyance issues. We recovered some Marine Debris, and learned a lot. Off to the deep dive, tomorrow!

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Tomorrow morning, I will meet up with Guam Department of Fish and Wildlife for a kids' fishing derby. They asked me to bring the ROV (STILL unnamed) in a pool as a demo. The ocean is extremely shallow near shore, and there is no place to launch without banging up the coral and/or the ROV.


Last week, I did a similar event at the mall and ran the poor robot in a cooler. People still loved it. Stepping it up this week with an inflatable 8' pool from KMart. Every time I run an operation like this, I learn another thing about these cool machines. This time, I am trying to integrate a game controller, and I have it working well enough to pilot the ROV. Still no lights or lasers, looks like some coding is required for that. Check out this test from tonight! My four year old son was able to pilot it no problem, so, I can officially declare this kid-tested for tomorrow.

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Expedition Background

I founded Live Ocean in 2009 as small environmental education non-profit. Our core mission has always been to "Inspire people to protect the ocean through innovative educational programming and interactive technology". Using the OpenRov 2.8 kit for education aligns perfectly with our goals. So far, I have helped build 2 OpenRovs, and was trained as a workshop facilitator in March of 2018. I believe these little underwater robots are the key reconnecting the people of Guam to our ocean resources.


One of the issues with marine environmental education is the increased attention to liability, and the necessity of expensive safety measures when you try and run programs in or on the water. This issue is especially complex in Guam, where reef flat currents are extremely strong and beach drownings are heart-breakingly common. Simply put, there are not enough eyes on our reefs.

Additionally, STEM opportunities are underrepresented in our community, despite the hard work in recent years of many passionate people. Our plan is to run a series of build workshops in Guam, training both facilitators and students. Each student group will be matched with a local stakeholder that is interested in data the robots can gather. The students will monitor an area for six weeks, then present the data to the stakeholder.

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