Submersible inventor challenges students with Sea Rocket project

Feb 04, 2019
Submersible Inventor Graham Hawkes shows Islesboro Central School students his Sea Rocket Jan. 9. To his left is ICS host science teacher John Van Dis.

Islesboro — Ocean explorer and submersible inventor Graham Hawkes recently visited Islesboro Central School as part of a partnership among HAWX Open Ocean, Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership, The Chicago EcoHouse School, The Apprenticeshop in Rockland, and Islesboro Central School.

HAWX Open Ocean began looking for a community that would be an ideal place to prototype applications for its new, ultra low-cost autonomous Sea Rocket. Penobscot Bay was a natural fit because of the large number of organizations, individuals and institutions that are dedicated to creating a vibrant sustainable marine community through education, research, economic development, exploration and innovation.

Driven by the need to make our ocean planet a better place for his grandchildren, world-renowned marine engineer and owner of HAWX Open Ocean, Graham Hawkes designed the Sea Rocket to make exploring more than 70 percent (the portion of the planet’s surface covered by the ocean) of our planet possible for everyone, especially kids.

The Sea Rocket travels vertically from the surface of the water to the bottom and back up, collecting data and taking video along the way. It leaves a burlap ballast bag and a steel retaining ring on the ocean bottom, and students wanted to find a more environmentally responsible solution, something that would biodegrade quickly.

High school science students at Islesboro Central are working with the Chicago EcoHouse to create a ballast bag and ring made from kelp-based bioplastic. This winter, the Chicago EcoHouse students will use a 3D printer to draft and 3D print prototypes of the ring mechanism that holds the weight for Islesboro students to test, and the Islesboro students will work on developing a biopolymer that meets performance criteria required for the Sea Rocket.

On Jan. 8, Hawkes visited Islesboro and presented students with a Sea Rocket for the students to use in the testing phase of their design challenge. The presentation was for all grades, and Hawkes challenged all students to develop questions about their local marine environment that could be answered with pictures and data collected by the Sea Rocket.

HAWX Open Ocean’s vision is to build a global crowdsourcing community of citizen scientists, community activists, scouts, boaters, naturalists — making and using the Sea Rocket to share images, videos and data of what they are discovering in the ocean.

For Hawkes, “The Penobscot Bay community is the perfect test tube environment for helping to refine the Sea Rocket design, process and messaging for creating a sustainable ocean future.”




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