Expedition STEM for the Ocean: Maine!

July 16 2017

Expedition Video

Sailing with the Rozalia Project on the American Promise, we'll travel up the coast of Maine, working with local communities to develop solutions for keeping trash out of the ocean along the way!

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July 16 2017

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Mission Underway

Day 1 of the teaching program!


We didn't get underway today, because of some very soupy fog. Instead we took a road trip up to the Booth Bay Sea and Science Center, where we'll be working with some Mizzens (5-9 years old) and Stays'ls (10-14 years old). The plan is to sail up there tomorrow and continue the program with the kids on Thursday.

We got ready in the morning by sorting out our curriculum for the day: The group is trying to push the curriculum a little bit further this year and tune it in so that it has a real impact with the kids. We made some games for them to play, decided on the structure of the talk, and then figured out our teams for when we split them into small groups. After the morning meeting, there was a safety briefing and lunch preparation. Talking through man overboard drills on a sailboat really steels the nerves! I'm still hoping for some exciting time underway, though maybe not too exciting.

At Booth Bay, we got started with a bang! The kids were super engaged and almost immediately started talking about the debris issues they see in their area, like old foam falling off the docks and into the ocean. Ashley and my little group had a lot of fun playing "I'm going to a cleanup" and trying to remember all the pieces of trash that their groupmates had mentioned. I found out my memory is even worse than I thought. We also had the kids un-jumble a quote from the Lorax, and discovered some serious Dr. Seuss fans.

After the introductory games, it was on to the Data Cleanup. The data cleanup is a simple idea - we clean an area, then count and catalog the debris that we find. The area that we cleaned with the kids today had been cleaned last year and a few years earlier, so we'll be able to compare the trash across that time. The kids did great, though the smallest ones had a little trouble with the gloves.

To bring it to the next level with the kids, Rachael wanted to have an element of creativity in the program. With the older kids, this can be focusing on real solutions they can work on in their communities. With the younger kids, we left it a little more open, so each of the three groups came up with something different. My group is forming a band using instruments made from the debris we found - it's called Band Ahoy! and I can't wait to perform with them on Thursday!

Back on the boat we honored the tradition of American Promise by watching Around Alone, the movie about Dodge Morgan and his solo circumnavigation under sail. What a heavy film! Definitely recommend watching it, especially if you can do it while ON the boat!

That's all for today, gonna get some rest so I can help sailing tomorrow!

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Nice! Where do you report and record the debris data?

Preparation Stage

Today we got aboard the American Promise, provisioned for the expedition, and met our fellow amazing crew and volunteer sailors!


The ship was launched last week from its winter perch out of the water, and Rachael, Brooke, and Ashley were hard at work dusting 'er off, rigging, and prepping for the expedition season. It looks amazing, and I'm really excited to be on a sailing ship this big. 60 feet long! It's also a pretty storied boat - at one point, it held the world record for the fastest solo sail around the world.

The people onboard are even more exciting. There's people from all over the US, including Alaska, and from many backgrounds - education, science, art, you name it! It's going to be really interesting getting to know everyone over the course of the next two weeks.

Our preparations for the day included getting a tour of the boat, doing a fun scavenger hunt to find critical things like life jackets and fire extinguishers, and provisioning for the trip. I'll be working as the food captain, so I got to go shopping with a couple of the other volunteers and bring back all the goods for this week.

After the food, other equipment, and our personal effects were on board, we got together to get introduced and learn more about our schedule for the week and our mission as an expedition. It's late now, but I'll update tomorrow with more details as we get started!

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Expedition Background

My name is Manyu, and I'll be a volunteer scientist on this year's expedition STEM for the ocean!


Here's a little background from the Rozalia Project website:

Underwater robots, drones, 3D printers, whales, puffins, ocean trash, R&D, inspiration and the greenest sailing research vessel in the world. This is what drives Expedition STEM for the Ocean: a cleanup, education and innovation program delivered from American Promise, to inspire young boaters and coastal residents to be an active part of the solution to marine debris in the near term through this program and in the long term by entering science, technology, engineering and math fields with an ocean or environmental focus.

We launched this program in 2016 as a pilot and were very excited by the results – see the video from Expedition STEM for the Ocean at the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership above. In 2017, we aim for further refine the activities, develop more solutions and inspire even more people!

Expedition STEM for the Ocean’s goals:

  • Through the program, develop solutions to local marine debris problems that can also be shared in other areas.
  • To inspire behavior change in sailors and coastal residents of all ages through an engaging and unique marine debris, STEM and solutions - program.
  • To inspire young people to consider careers in STEM for the ocean.

I hope I can document where we're traveling, what we're seeing, and who we're meeting along the way, so you can follow along and be inspired to do something about ocean and waterway trash in your community!

Awesome Manyu! Looking forward to seeing how expedition-based awareness works for this issue.