An important goal of our experiment is the outreach to middle-schoolers in the Porto region to encourage them to think about Portugal's maritime legacy by projecting to the future with the use of advanced robotics, marine biology and the use of engineering for the benefit of science and society. Our objective is to pique the interest of students at this stage of their educational careers and demonstrate how cool the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Marine Biology are and show their impact with material well outside their normal course of study. Our project will also provide students with a view of what academic research is like and elicit interest by answering their questions and queries. Towards this end, project personnel will visit High School José Régio, in Vila do Conde near Porto, give an educational talk and spend a good part of the morning there prior to the experiment.

During the experiment, students will be able to talk to researchers from Portugal, Spain, Norway and the United States either on our research vessel out at sea fitted with a high-bandwidth satellite link as well as the shore base near the town of Tavira in the Portuguese Algarve. By doing so, we want to ensure students understand that academic research fosters teamwork and collaboration and such research efforts necessitate field experiments out in the real world.

Presentation at school

Video conference with students

The students from Vila do Conde got the opportunity to question researchers in Tavira, about the Sunfish Tracking experiment, over the internet. For almost one hour all sorts of questions about vehicles, operations, tagging process and the Ocean Sunfish were answered and discussed.

They also had a surprise in store for us. The father of one of the students caught an ocean sunfish in his nets. His son grabbed the opportunity and took the fish to school to study it in the science class with his colleagues and teacher.