Two designs presented this Saturday will be selected, fitted with GPS units, and deployed into the Gulf of Mexico during a coastal experiment being conducted by scientists seeking to understand how currents and waves affect the movement of oil and other toxins onto shore. The experiment will be based at John Beasley Park, Okaloosa Island, FL. Most of the drifters will be deployed from the beach. (For details, read the 2013 Ocean Drifter Project Fact Sheet).
Testing of the Rickards drifter designs will take place this Saturday, November 23. Eight student groups will test their drifters -- each branded with a moniker as unique as their individual designs:
- The Current'anator
- Duck Dodger
- The Jellyfish
- The Aggressor
- Water boy
- Whatever floats your boat
Take a look at the drifter designs the student teams will be presenting and testing this Saturday:
|Rickards High School Science Teacher Ms. Dana Fields |
with Dr. Nico Wienders, a physical oceanographer at
Florida State University and member of the Deep-C Consortium.
Students were asked to create drifters that can move with the surface currents near the coast/beach/surf zone. In developing their designs, participants considered materials that might be best for future scientific research (biodegradable vs plastic, colors, weight, ability to float, etc). They also considered wind, currents, storms, boats, etc. because unless a drifter is correctly designed, it may be blown by the wind rather than transported by the current. Worse yet, it may not be able to withstand the constant pounding of powerful ocean waves.
Important Criteria for Surf Zone/Coastal Drifters
- First... must be able to float!
- Next, it needs to include a GPS unit via straps, Velcro, zip ties, or something that will attach the unit to the drifter;
- It must be durable and sturdy... able to take a withstand rain, wind and constant movement in the waves;
- It must be small and light enough to be carried on a jet ski (less than 10 kilos, but 3-5 kilos is better);
- It should be easy to hold on to (some have handles or something that can be easily grasped during deployment);
- And, it cannot be deeper than 50 cm.