The innovation engine for new materials

Larry Madrigal


Olive Grove Charter School

Grade Level: 

High School

Teaching Position: 

Biology, Chemistry, Underwater Robotics, Environmental Science


Libe Washburn




Eduardo Romero
David Salazar

Research Project Year: 


Research Project Title: 

Autonomous ADCP Deployment for Current Profiling in Near Coastal Environments

Research Project Description: 

Oceanic coastal currents supply a kelp ecosystem with nutrients, planktonic food, and larvae. Data on changes in coastal currents due to interactions with the kelp ecosystem are limited. Jackson and Winant (1983) found that water flow on the outside edge of a kelp forest is faster flowing than water on the interior.  Although they did not determine the exact flow field through the entire kelp ecosystem, a large kelp forest and higher plant density will decrease the flow rate and increase the time before water reaches the interior kelp from outside.  

Studying the currents in a kelp ecosystem is difficult for several reason: a) boats and crew with equipment are expensive; b) boats get tangled in the kelp; c) mounting measuring equipment within a kelp forest limits data to specific sites within the kelp forest and does not acquire data from the entire flow field; and d) stationary equipment requires constant maintenance from fouling organisms. 

Therefore, the purpose of this research project is to test the viability of using a stand-up paddle (SUP) board to glide over the kelp ecosystem with an onboard Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) to map and generate data on the shallow water currents in a kelp ecosystem. Specific areas of focus during this research project included:  designing and building an Automatic Position Receiving System (APRS) which would deploy if the SUP flipped over in rough weather conditions, designing and improving the ailerons and add rudders to improve the path profile of the SUP in windy and rough conditions and design and installation of onboard warning signal lights and waterproof onboard system connections. 

Curriculum Project Year: 


Curriculum Project Title: 

Developing a Small Scale Underwater Robot to Investigate Aquatic Ecosystems

Curriculum Project Description: 

This unit consists of 4 lessons focused on physical properties of water and how these properties effect deep water ocean circulation and the design of equipment to be used in aquatic habitats. Each lesson contains at least one hands-on activity with instructions or a worksheet for the students. Students explore what factors influence buoyancy forces (lesson 1); how salinity and temperature effect the density of water (lesson 2); how to determine density driven ocean circulation patterns (lesson 3); finally, in lesson 4, students apply their knowledge and make an underwater robot to be used as an oceanic sampling station.
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