June 6, 2016

MIT Sea Grant celebrates World Ocean Day at the New England Aquarium

By Morgan O'Hanlon

A young girl of 5 or 6 years leans over the controls to a remotely operated underwater vehicle, also known as a ROV. She stares intently at the vehicle floating inside the 100 gallon tank before her and tries to maneuver its camera to face her.

“She doesn’t speak much English,” her mother says, “we’re Italian.” In spite of the language barrier, the girl looks fascinated as she drives the AUV.

This activity was featured in a booth put together by MIT Sea Grant’s outreach program as a part of the annual World Oceans Day event organized by the New England Aquarium.

In spite of Sunday’s rain, the event managed to draw a large crowd of kids, parents, and other marine enthusiasts looking to learn more about ocean life and stewardship. MIT Sea Grant’s booth, now in it’s third year at the New England Aquarium’s World Oceans Day event, gave kids (and adults!) a chance to try their hand at piloting an underwater ROV.

Michael Sacarny, a research engineer in MIT Sea Grant’s AUV lab, said that events such as this one help to translate the technical jargon of engineers into layman’s terms by making the field of marine technology more accessible through demonstration.

“A strong core of our mission is advising the next generation of marine engineers,” said Sacarny, who told me that this Sunday’s outreach event was his 5th of 2016.

By increasing the frequency of outreach events such as the booth at World Ocean’s Day, MIT Sea Grant hopes to expand interest in the field of marine technology by making its research both fun and accessible to a larger audience.

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The MIT Sea Grant booth drew a crowd as kids wait for their chance to pilot a underwater vehicle at the New England Aquarium World Ocean Day celebration.