Students go deep at Bios camp
Pupils with a passion for robotics took on the opportunity of a lifetime and helped a team of scientists deploy an underwater drone.
Twenty youngsters with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences travelled to a wreck off St David’s and to reefs at North Rock to assist a group of pilots with the University of Rhode Island carry out a study on marine environments.
The pupils, who were enrolled in Bios’ Camp ROV to learn more about robotic engineering, spent three days learning how pilots operated and deployed the drone, named Deep Reef.
They even watched as Deep Reef investigated the environment around the wreck of Pelinaion off St David’sand help manage the drone’s tether.
Brennan Phillips, the head of the Undersea Robotics and Imaging Laboratory which deployed the drone, said: "This was a wonderful opportunity to leverage some of the deep-sea technology we've been using for our research in Bermuda and engage with students who have a real background and interest in the subject.
“We're grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Bios to inspire and educate the next generation of Bermudian scientists and engineers."
Camp ROV, which ran between July 14 and 16, challenged youngsters to learn about and design remote-operated vehicles, or ROVs.
The youngsters spent their mornings testing out their new robots in an underwater obstacle course and talking to scientists with the URIL about their careers.
Azari Lema, a Dellwood Middle School pupil aged 14, said that he became interested in robotics because he wanted to learn about the sea and thought robotics would be a good way to do so.
Kaitlin Noyes, the director of education and community engagement for Bios, added: “Hosting a real ROV on the Bios campus was a huge advantage to demonstrating the real-world research application of this technology in better understanding our ocean.”
Camp ROV was one portion of BIOS’ Mid-Atlantic Robotics in Education summer programme.
The programme, also known as Marine, is sponsored by the insurance firm RenaissanceRe and runs from June and July. It hosts a yearly ROV Challenge in which pupils design their own marine ROVs and compete against one another in a tournament at the National Sports Centre.
This year’s ROV Challenge, which started in June, used the theme “Excite, Educate, Empower: Students engineering solutions to global problems”.
About 54 youngsters and teachers designed and tested ROVs designed to perform tasks such as lionfish spearfishing and collecting debris from the sea floor.
The pupils also tested their ROVs in BIOS’ new Underwater Robotics Innovation Test Pool, a 20ft by 6ft above-ground pool sponsored by RenaissanceRe.
Jeff Manson, the director of underwriting and public sector partnerships at RenaissanceRe, said: “For a second year, the RenaissanceRe team is pleased to sponsor the Marine programme at Bios, helping young Bermudians develop valuable STEM skills through a focus on ocean studies and robotics.
“As a Bermuda-headquartered company, we believe that our ocean plays a vital role in the island’s economic and cultural vibrancy and we are proud to support these students as they explore oceanographic and technological sciences.
“We wish the programme continued success in the future.”