Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rickards Holds Drifter Testing Day

Student teams from the IB Program at Rickards High School in Tallahassee have been busy working on designs for ocean drifters that can move with the surface currents near the coast/beach/surf zone.  

The two best designs will be included in an upcoming SCOPE (Surfzone Coastal Oil Pathways Experiment) where dozens of drifters will be released in the Gulf of Mexico.  Each drifter, including those designed by the students, will be equipped with a GPS unit to allow scientists (and the students) to track their movements. 

To determine which of the drifter prototypes were ready for such a mission, they were put to the test on Saturday!  Rickards teacher Dana Fields and Deep-C scientist Nico Wienders evaluated each design to determine if it met the criteria necessary to fulfill a mission in the Gulf of Mexico.  They evaluated each drifter's buoyancy, durability, and portability.  Because unless a drifter is correctly designed, it may be blown by the wind rather than transported by the current and it won't withstand the rain, wind and constant movement in the waves.     

Some students were nervous when their drifter was dropped into the pool... watching anxiously to see if it would take on water or sink.  Others crossed their fingers when their design was flipped over.  The judges were testing if it would right itself (one of the necessary characteristics of  a functional ocean drifter). 

Across the board, "they did incredible," Dr. Wienders said. "I was seriously impressed!"

Once the scores are tallied and the judges have time to confer, they will announce the two winning designs.  So stay tuned...

Posted by:
Amelia Vaughan,
Ocean Science Educator

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