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Berkeley Girls Underwater Robot Camp

January 17 2015

Over a three day weekend in January, I am inviting 5 girls to join together, build an ROV, and take it on a micro expedition in the Bay Area. The first two days we'll build the robot and begin expedition planning. On the final day we'll go out into the world armed with our robot and explore. Ladies, you already have the confidence and capabilities to be engineers and explorers, let's prove it.

January 17 2015


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Mission Underway

Pay close attention at 4 minutes...that's when we get our visitor.

That is just so fantastic!

Since he was built, Puck the OpenROV has already been on some adventures. This week Puck traveled with me to the island of Lana'i, south of Maui in Hawaii, to be the research and exploration tool for Keona and Jasmine.

We made plans to head out with a local fisherman, Dan, on his 21 foot open design boat to dive along the coast of Lana'i. The wind and seas were a little heavy, and the new mariners suffered a few bouts of sea sickness, but they still managed to pilot the ROV on the rocky seas.

We started out early and first headed straight offshore to sink Styrofoam cups down to 500' and bring them back up, miniaturized by the crushing pressure of the sea. We then headed west towards the light house, and north up towards the Port of Lana'i. Wind and waves were too big for launching our little sub, so we returned to the lighthouse, and searched a mooring amidst the waves crashing inside the little baylet over "The Cathedrals." A series of submerged lava tubes and coral heads. We were thwarted by conditions inside the bay, so we live boated just outside and dove the ROV down about 30 meters. The girls explored the sandy bottom, which was surprising, we all thought it would be lava rock, and were passed by a SHARK! I think it was a black tip reef shark but I need a marine biologist to confirm.

As we headed back to harbor we were blessed by the company of huge humpback whales frolicking, tail flipping, spraying, and slapping right next to the boat.


Correction* I accidentally put the arrows in reverse. We went out first to conduct the cup crush mission.

Great job ladies!!

This is so cool. As a kid I received one of those styrofoam cups as a gift - it was part of what sparked my fascination with the ocean!

Woo hoo, cup crushing! Glad to hear Puck is continuing his epic adventure!

Build it, test it, fly it! This is Girls Underwater Robot camp--in 60 seconds!

Preparation Stage

The second day of building went outstandingly smoothly. Though I learned as an instructor that the new 2.7 model is a little different than the 2.6 so the easier steps, in my experience, come first, and Day 2 was a little more complex.

The girls arrived for Day 2 jazzed after such a good first build day. They worked in pairs on each of the line items listed on the board. As each of the listed items was completed, the pairs checked of their accomplishments and then pairs sort of naturally switched as larger projects required more people.


Day 1 - 10am to 3pm
Air Temp: 67 degrees F
Mentors: Erika Bergman, Kira Porter, Samantha Wishnak
Number of GEECs (Girls Engineering and Exploration Campers): 6
Ages: 10 - 17

The first step of the day is to go over what we will accomplish in the next 5 hours. It's going to be a high intensity build session, broken down into Skills Labs, and work in pairs.

Here's the plan:


Good luck today!!

Stay tuned for updates as we approach our workshop weekend!


Got to love Grrl power you could be getting the next @SylviaEarle going - fantastic

We need programs like that here in RI to encourage girls consider marine biology and robotics. With URI's Marine Biology programs/Inner space center, and Woods hole just next door, there are so many great opportunities for young explorers!

Expedition Background

Registration open to all girls ages 13-17 on EventBrite:

$130 per participant

January 17th, 18th & 19th - 10:30 - 3:30

17th: Gather at OpenROV Head Quarters in Berkeley, CA to construct ROV.
18th: Meet at OpenROV Head Quarters to Test and Calibrate ROV. Plan micro expedition.
19th: Meet at OpenROV Head Quarters and go explore.

About the Camp Mentor:
Erika Bergman is a submersible pilot and a National Geographic Explorer

Assistant Mentor:
Kira Porter is a High School Senior and former GURC participant. She is currently piloting the ROV Mantis.

Let's Explore!

We will be sharing in the build of ONE OpenROV. After the ROV is complete we'll make plans for each girl to take it on expedition where ever she'd like to explore!


That sounds great! I wish we had camps like that in New England when my nieces were younger. My Niece Stephanie still is a bit of an explorer at heart!

I love the project Erika it's a very good idea to offer such a great opportunity to young girls ages 13-17, it's really all about education and exploration! All the best for your 3 days weekend camp! Sincerely. Dorian

This is awesome! We live in Auburn and I have twins, but they are only 8. Do you know of anything geared towards younger children?