Mote Marine Laboratory is accepting applications now for its Ocean Technology Club — a new program that will allow Sarasota- and Manatee-county high schoolers and teachers to learn and apply science and technology skills through the mentorship of marine researchers at Mote.
The selected student and teacher members will explore oceanography, physics, chemistry, electronic circuitry and computer programming through real-world examples and applications — from deploying monitoring devices in local environments to working closely with Mote scientists using robotic gliders to monitor for harmful algae.

The club will be the first of its kind in Florida, led by Mote’s Ocean Technology Research Program with the support of Mote’s Education programs and Aquarium. Collaborators include the University of Hawaii, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, and the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS).

Ocean Technology Club members will be selected through a competitive application process and invited to participate at no cost.

High-school students and science and technology teachers can apply now for the club’s inaugural fall season starting in late-August 2016. A spring 2017 season will follow. Each season will allow approximately 15 highly motivated students and three-to-five teachers to participate in twice-monthly meetings and activities at Mote’s Sarasota campus. Meetings will last about three hours each, and exact meeting times will be based in-part on applicants’ availability.
“We are looking for students and teachers who are genuinely interested in technology and the ways we can apply it to study and preserve our oceans,” said Dr. Jordon Beckler, manager of Mote’s Ocean Technology Research Program, who spearheaded creation of the Ocean Technology Club. “We hope our club members will come to understand how technology enhances many different disciplines in marine science, from studies of ocean circulation and water quality to wildlife habitat.”

Beckler continued: “We want to motivate students to pursue science and technology careers, while encouraging them to become environmental stewards who value the marine ecosystems in their own backyard.”

For example, fall participants will build fully functional temperature sensors and deploy them along Phillippi Creek to enhance an ongoing Mote study investigating how juvenile common snook — a popular sport fish — use habitats in the creek. Snook within tidal creeks encounter different habitat types, including hard seawalls and natural shoreline with vegetation, along with physical changes such as increasing and decreasing temperature and salinity as tides ebb and flow. Understanding environmental conditions can help to explain the movements and behavior of snook and other animals. Mote’s snook project ultimately aims to make tidal creeks more fish-friendly, to better support healthy populations of snook and preserve the economic and ecological benefits of fisheries in the Sarasota Bay region.

Mote scientists are deploying antenna arrays to detect the movements of tagged snook in Phillippi Creek, and the temperature sensors from the Ocean Technology Club will add another layer of data.

“The students will learn how to operate and record data from the temperature sensors using a microcontroller — essentially a small computer — and how to incorporate the sensor packages into waterproof housings and eventually deploy them as a network along the Creek,” said Mote intern Halle Fields, who is working toward her Bachelor of Science at the University of Miami and helping develop the Ocean Technology Club’s curriculum. “They will also be encouraged to take a microcontroller and sensors home and consider the many other potential ways they can be used.”

Club members will also deploy a more advanced sensor suite with dissolved oxygen and pH sensors in the Mote Aquarium pond, and ultimately, an educational exhibit will  highlight the club members’ work for Aquarium visitors.

Club members will also learn about autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) through exposure to technology such as the underwater robotic glider that Mote deploys in the Gulf of Mexico to study red tides and other ocean phenomena. The club’s AUV component will especially ramp up in spring 2017, as members investigate how to adapt ocean sensors to different platforms, including a fully-functional, miniature AUV constructed from a water bottle (SeaGlide).

In addition to working with Mote scientists, club members will learn from guest speakers describing other ocean technology projects, including staff from GCOOS, who are helping with data formatting to support the eventual integration of club-produced data into their system.

Apply Here. Deadline 7 August 2016