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By Land, By Sea, and By Air - A STEM Expedition to the "Big Island" of Hawaii

August 12 2014
In June 2015, New Albany Plain Local Schools (New Albany, OH) will be embarking on a high school STEM expedition to the "Big Island" of Hawaii to conduct geologic (and habitat) surveys in and around the coastal boundaries of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This project will involve a two-step approach to geographic mapping of volcanic regions using remotely operated vehicles and quadcopters drones Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes sit atop an active hotspot here, and are known as the most active volcanoes in the world. This geologic setting provides an excellent opportunity for approximately 30 students to study island formation that has been occurring within the Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Chain for over 70 million years.

August 12 2014

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Name: Claire Monk
E-Mail: monk.1@napls.us
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Preparation Stage

This winter, twenty students from New Albany - Plain Local Schools participated in the SeaPerch program, sponsored by the US Office of Naval Research (seaperch.org). In teams of two, they built these remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) from low-cost materials with basic tools, learned a bit about undersea robotics and completed coursework related to Archimede's Principle, buoyancy and density, and force and motion (i.e. velocity and acceleration).

Upon completion of this curriculum, the same students participated in a two-day weekend OpenROV submersible build, partnering with an oceanographer from the University of Connecticut's Northeast Underwater Research, Technology and Education Center (NURTEC). Capable of diving deeper, providing a live HD video stream, better maneuverability with higher-powered thrusters, lasers, integrated LED lights, and an intuitive software control interface, the OpenROV was an ideal, cost effective solution for this STEM expedition to Hawaii. Students will be building a second OpenROV in the coming weeks, and we will take both robots to Hawaii to deploy from a charter boat to explore submarine geology near coastal areas of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.

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Expedition Background

In June 2015, New Albany Plain Local Schools (New Albany, OH) will be embarking on a high school STEM expedition to the "Big Island" of Hawaii to conduct geologic (and habitat) surveys in and around the coastal boundaries of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This project will involve a two-step approach to geographic mapping of volcanic regions using remotely operated vehicles and quadcopters drones Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes sit atop an active hotspot here, and are known as the most active volcanoes in the world. This geologic setting provides an excellent opportunity for approximately 20 students to study island formation that has been occurring within the Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Chain for over 70 million years.

Leading up to this adventure, students will take part in a semester long course in robotics including physics lessons covering buoyancy and hydrodynamics, construction of SeaPerch ROVs, "hacking" their designs to include cameras and lighting, improved thrust, and better frame design, and working with researchers at the University of Connecticut's Northeast Underwater Research, Technology & Education Center (NURTEC) to build an OpenROV kit. The end goal is to employ this more capable (and community supported) OpenROV submersible to conduct habitat surveys and collect video/still images of the coastal waters surrounding Kilauea. In conjunction with geo-referenced aerial photography using AR.drone quadcopters , will provide a better understand of land formation over land, from the air, and under the sea.

As with previous NAPL STEM expeditions to Oregon, South Africa, etc., students and teacher participants will be sharing multimedia and maintaining a blog during their time in Hawaii. This project seems like a perfect fit for the OpenExplorer website and we hope you will consider New Albany Plain Local Schools for a free OpenROV kit!

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This expedition sounds super exciting! There will be a group of students working on ROVs and also the OpenROVs in Norway this fall. A totally different marine environment, but quite similar objectives.

Looking forward to follow you further!

Wow neat! I grew up on the big island and it's close to my heart. Can't wait to see the island depths through your ROVs!

My wife and I spent our honeymoon on the Big Island and loved every moment of it! What an amazing place! So many biomes, so little time :) Traversing the caldera of Kilauea, lava tubes and coastal flows was fun on foot but It will be exciting to explore the park with aerial photography and underwater imagery. It should be a great experience for students and teachers alike! Chspiten...looking forward to following your adventures in Norway as well!

Hope all is going well with the classes! I'm missing Hawaii as winter sets in here and thinking about your grand adventure to the big island. How are things progressing in OH?

Thank you. Looking forward to our ROV build session scheduled for early February! We are still trying work through the loopholes of the school system to get a W-9 from the OpenROV store to finalize the purchase. Any thoughts/suggestions from the OpenExplorer community are welcome!