Archive for July 28th, 2008

What else crosses a ocean way better than a nerd?

Monday, July 28th, 2008

While RU17 struggles as it finally heads east again after a too long period battling, we look to those critters that always live at sea.  While we at COOL can feel great about ourselves for kinda making it 1/2 way across the ocean, the reality is that ocean crossings are buisness as usual for many organisms in the sea.  So tonight, more in spirit of humility, we toast one of those organisms, the Leatherback turtle. 

The leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is the largest of all living turtles, but unfortunalety is is critically endangered.  As a sea turtle, the leatherback is the largest and heaviest. The leatherback turtle has global range spanning from Alaska to New Zealand. Leatherback turtles like the deep ocean ocean (one was  tracked from Indonesia to the U.S. over 13,000-miles!!!!!). They cross the oceans faster than the glider and they serve as an inspriation to those of us trying to doing it for the first time.  Check out the links below to view their amazing capabilties!  We have much too learn...........................


MSU Summer Robotics Camp Presentation

Monday, July 28th, 2008

On Friday, July 25, I had the opportunity to spend the morning at Montclair State University, in Montclair, NJ,  to visit the MSU Gifted and Talented Summer Robotics Camp.  I made the visit hoping to introduce the students to Slocum gliders and the data that we use to fly them, provide the students with a real world context for the computer logic and circuit design that they're learning in class and to give them a glimpse of what it is like to be a glider pilot for a Transatlantic Glider Mission.  Many of the campers heard news snippets about the Transatlantic Mission and brought their questions to one of their teachers, Norm Sutaria.  Norm who forwarded them along to Sage.  The students needed to know more about RU17, what goes on behind the scenes to support the endeavor, and what it's like to be behind those scenes.  Sage asked me to respond to their  questions.  Seeing a perfectly justified opportunity to spend a work day out of the lab, I volunteered to visit camp.

Truth be told, I really enjoy doing outreach.  It's a lot of fun to bring the kind of experiences that turn into 'everyday life' around the cool room, and share them with an interested, engaged and excited audience. Most of the campers were gifted and talented students, so they came with much the interest and excitement, all I simply had to share stories.  The spiraling nature of engineering/design may not be everyone's favorite story, but the cooperative work of Webb Research Company and Rutgers University is a great example for students building their first robots, right there is class.  It's important to know that things don't always work out perfectly at first and that success almost always follows many 'near successes'.

I would like to thank Norm for having me over to MSU, getting me some excellent directions, and helping to steer my presentations towards each class, Dave Aragon for helping me check out and load up a glider early that morning, and Chuck for helping me put RU01 back in the cage room at the end of the day.


Favorite question of the day:

Student: So...what's it like?

Me: To do what?

Student: Well....the whole robot....

Me:  Flying a robot across the ocean?

Student: Yea, like do you ever get to sleep?


Presentations went really well. What was planned as a 15 minute

presentation for two classes turned into three class periods (8:30-12:30)

with a total of 5 classes of students attending,

First presentation was completely inquiry/question driven. ~15 students 10-11 yrs old.

Walked in with glider at 8:35, and the questions started. Spent most of the time on the

floor with the students, showing them around the glider.

Second presentation class of 3 13-14 year olds. Combination of inquiry based,

motivated by their teacher, and guided by independent student interest (on or off the topic of Slocums). The


motivated activity was reading some glider code, so I walked them through the

and to introduce them to behavior space of the glider. Showed them the

combined datasets in Google Earth and web tools (Glider Navigation Page, and Glider Ops

Home page).

Third class, combination of user driven and power point. ~25 students, 10-12.

Some students worked on their own robot kits, which they showed off to me before

the presentation while a second class joined. Spent more time describing the COOL

room and what we do, than in the previous. Ended up being largely user based and

I only used about half of the slides that I assembled. The slides made it feel a little too

lecturey for me especially with the pre-lunch vibe starting to kick in, but they were

useful to answer questions.