STEM Activities at NOAC
By: Steve Goldammer
Participate in a food science experiment to test your taste buds. Learn about cryogenics and mind waves. Use polymer science to cast a souvenir neckerchief slide or print objects in 3-D. Operate Lego robotic devices or learn to program the embedded microprocessors that are found in everything from digital watches to major appliances. Try your skill at flying a drone aircraft or broadcasting with amateur radio equipment.
STEM @ NOAC features a variety of fascinating hands-on learning activities covering Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Check out presentations and special STEM programs every hour from experts on your schedule for specific topics and presenters!
NAUTILUS LIVE EVENT
On Tuesday afternoon, a special STEM event occurred from the decks of the marine research vessel E/V Nautilus using a live video feed. The ship is operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust, the same organization that discovered the wreck of the Titanic. Staff onboard include a volunteer crew of scientists, engineers, educators, and even artists.
Our hosts for the program were two science educators, Shannon Donovan and Alex Havens, who are presently serving aboard the Nautilus. Tuesday, they answered questions from NOAC participants and spoke about their experiences aboard the Nautilus.
Shannon has done research in bioluminescence and is a high school teacher from Rhode Island who is involved in the Teachers at Sea program. She has worked with Scouts on various service projects.
Alex pursued his childhood dream to be a marine biologist and works as a natural resources interpreter at the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward. In his youth, he was a member of Troop 35 from Dumfries, Virginia, and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. His Eagle service project was to historically survey a newly expanded local park, to locate historical artifacts, and to map out and mark the new park boundaries. It was this project that led him to a degree in parks, tours, and recreation management.
The Nautilus is currently operating in the northeastern Pacific Ocean near British Columbia. During their present tour, Alex and Shannon helped deploy two remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROV), dubbed the Hercules and the Argus.
The ROVs have explored undersea vents releasing superheated mineral-rich volcanic gases, commonly called black smokers. Bacteria known as extremophiles have been found to thrive in the extremely harsh conditions surrounding these vents.
The ROVs have also been used to install a network of fiber-optically-connected scientific instruments on the ocean floor. Now in progress is the installation of a Titan accelerometer which will be used for early earthquake detection along the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate and Cascadia subduction zone.