This spring in Youth EXPO, we have driven an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and walked inside a Space Shuttle replica at Kennedy Space Center. So it only makes sense that we go canoeing today in Biscayne National Park! Ranger Chris talked with us about the environment of the National Park, including the mangroves and the coral reefs (the 3rd largest reef system in the world), and how important it is to keep it clean and healthy for its inhabitants (and us). He even told us about this species of fish in the Bay which can actually switch genders! (Can you find out which species it is?) After we had a canoeing safety lesson, we we able to go out on the Bay. Canoeing is certainly harder than it looks. It was very windy, and on the way back in to shore, 3 boats had to come back as a team, each one holding on to the next. But we all made it back!
April 9, 2011
Kennedy Space Center. This is the place where Space Shuttles and rockets are launched. The place where you can re-live the history of the US Space Program, walk under rockets that took men to the Moon, and even meet astronauts. We went for a day to Kennedy Space Center, and got to do all these things. Listening to Astronaut Tom Jones talk about the day he saw 16 sunsets and 16 sunrises from the International Space Station makes you realize how lucky astronauts are.
Outside in the Rocket Garden, we walked across a walkway, just like the one that astronauts walk across to enter the Space Shuttle. But we did it in slow motion, just like in the “hero shot” in movies when the astronauts are on their way to accomplish a dangerous, but vital, mission. Everyone has a little bit of astronaut explorer blood in them!
Visiting Space Shuttle replica at Kennedy Space Center
April 2, 2011
It was the greatest video game ever: there was a control pad, and a maneuverable object. Our control pad was a computer remotely hooked up to the Marine Resources Development Foundation in Key Largo. And our maneuverable object was a real, remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in waters off the Florida Keys! Working with a scientist sitting in a habitat almost 50 feet under the surface of Largo Sound, each of us took a turn maneuvering the ROV from our lab at the Museum.
ROVs can provide tons of climate information for us, by exploring where humans can’t – underwater caves, the frozen polar regions, oil rigs and shipwrecks. They can use claws to take samples, and probes to take temperature readings, and can observe habitats without disturbing the inhabitants very much. And we were able to operate one! It may be hard to tell from the picture, but it was like a real-life game. You can see our controls on the left, and the view from the ROV’s “eye” as it follows an underwater pipe. Some took to it more quickly than others – it definitely is a skill, and not as easy as it looks!
Navigating an underwater ROV from our lab in the Museum