Ready St…Eddy… Reef!


24th January 2017

British Science Week March 10th – 17th

The theme of British Science Week 2017 is ‘Ready St…Eddy… Reef’! It’s all about the potential placement of a new ship wreck habitat, or artificial reef, in the waters around Eddystone Lighthouse. When deciding whether or not to place a new ship wreck habitat, we have to plan and undertake some underwater exploration in order to survey the seabed site. This kind of underwater exploration comes with its fair share of challenges and problems to overcome. It’s these challenges that form the basis of our special Science Week activities.

In 2004 The National Marine Aquarium purposefully sank the HMS Scylla to make an artificial wreck habitat off the coast of Plymouth, with great success. This wreck is now home to an enormous variety of marine life and is a fascinating place to explore. Using this experience, we have come up with three brand new and inspiring workshops that hit not only key curriculum topics, but also allow the students to practice real life applications of STEM subjects.

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Building on the success of previous Schools Programme events, Science Week 2017 aims to be fully immersive (without actually getting too wet!) and will allow students to play out a real life, ocean science scenario. While they won’t actually go out and dive the Eddystone Reef, they will get to experience many of the challenges that go along with this type of exploration and can increase their interest and enthusiasm for this exciting area of science. All students will  take part in all three workshops in a fully structured and timetabled day. They will focus on a handful of issues faced when we venture under the waves including, what happens to light when it passes through the sea, navigating underwater and making seabed maps, the mechanical solutions for surveys under the sea and most importantly, floating and sinking in the watery depths!

Groups of keys stage 2 and key stage 3 students will have the chance to explore all these topics under the guidance of our Discovery and Learning team, culminating in a grand finale Science Week show which will involve fun, excitement and science in equal measure…

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The Workshops

1. To see or not to see …?

Can we see in the deep sea? The light we need to see can only travel so far through water… In this session, we will explore what happens to light in the deep sea! Using the National Marine Aquariums ‘Deep Sea Goggles’, we can discover how different colours of light disappear with depth.

2. Robot Arm Wars!

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV’s) are mini, unmanned submarines which conduct scientific surveys. They have to be able to manipulate, sample and interact with the seabed and its life. Skilled pilots negotiate the underwater world and interact with it via a robotic, manoeuvrable arm. It is important however, that the ROV and its arm don’t disturb the surrounding habitat and don’t damage the delicate ecosystem they are there to survey.

3. Seabed Survey Struggles (including Mapping Matters and Buoyancy Bothers)

Underwater surveys can provide challenges for people trying to carry them out. It’s an alien environment that we have to have specialised equipment to visit. In this session we will look at two of the problems facing underwater surveyors; buoyancy and mapping.

3.b.  Buoyancy Bothers

When we go underwater we need to be able to sink… but, more importantly, we need to float again! Ideally, we don’t want to plummet to the very bottom of the ocean in a matter of seconds, not only is that very dangerous, it also means we wouldn’t see all the wonderful animals on the journey down!In this session, we will look at making an underwater craft that is not only watertight but neutrally buoyant. This means neither floating nor sinking but hanging somewhere nicely in the middle.

3.a.  Mapping Matters

This session will look at techniques for mapping the seabed. We will cover why we map the seabed and how it has been done in the past, with a chance to try out some past mapping technology. We will also look at how mapping in the sea is carried out today with modern GIS systems.

To book your school or class onto our Science week call our team on 01752 275233 or email them on justaddh2o@national-aquarium.co.uk 

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