MATE ROV competition in North Bend this weekend

NORTH BEND – Forty-three teams of elementary, middle school, high school and college students from across Oregon descend on the North Bend Community Pool and North Bend High Schoolthis Saturday, April 30, to try out their hand-built underwater robots in the Oregon regional section of the annual Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Remotely Operated Vehicle competition.

The event, which is open to the public, runs from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m.

Team works on ROVThe Oregon competition is one of 24 regional contests held around the world under the coordination of the MATE Center. Top teams from upper level divisions will earn an opportunity to compete in MATE’s 15th annual international ROV competition June 23-25 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

This year’s contest highlights the role of ROVs in scientific research and exploration in the deep ocean and outer space. Students will pilot their RVs through missions designed to meet NASA-identified needs. Among other things, teams are challenged to build a robot that can survive transport to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, and operate in the ocean beneath the moon’s ice sheet to collect data and deploy instrumentation. Teams must also create a poster and be interviewed by engineering judges.

The competition promotes entrepreneurship and leadership skills by requiring students to organize their teams into a company, with each student taking on a specific roll as they design, manufacture and market their student-built robots. They must manage a project and budget, brainstorm innovative solutions and work as a team – all important workforce skills.

The Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition is supported by numerous partners and more than 50 volunteers who serve as divers, judges and support staff. This year’s competition is sponsored by the Oregon Coast Stem Hub.

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STEM Week Oregon celebrates, encourages STEM learning

STEM Week Oregon logoMay 1-8 is  STEM Week Oregon, a state-wide movement to raise awareness, celebrate and engage in activities involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Oregon Sea Grant’s marine education team and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub say that STEM learning is crucial to students, academic and professional success. Engaging students, families, and community members in STEM related activities will help promote the importance — and fun — of STEM!

How can you participate?

The STEM Oregon website offers these suggestions:

Renewable energy challenge brings kids to Hatfield Center

2015 Renewable Energy ChallengeNEWPORT – More than 200 third- through 12th-graders will demonstrate their knowledge of wind-, wave- and solar energy on April 19 in the third annual Oregon Coast Renewable Energy Challenge at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. The event takes place from 10 am to 2 pm.
Students from Warrenton, Seaside, Tillamook, Toledo and Waldport will bring their student built renewable energy devices to compete for top honors at this year’s competition. In addition to testing their devices in wave tanks, solar tracks and in a wind tunnel, teams will interact with a panel of engineering judges who will further rate teams on knowledge and design innovation.
Students will also have the opportunity to hear about current research on potential impacts of offshore wind energy devices, and participate in HMSC’s Sustainability Quest, an educational clue-directed hunt.
This year’s Oregon Coast Renewable Energy Challenge is made possible by support from the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, Georgia-Pacific Foundation, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub. Teams with top wind energy devices will be invited to participate in the National KidWind Challenge  in New Orleans at the end of May.


Spots still available for fall Career, Home School days at HMSC

NEWPORT – Spots are still open for two popular, day-long youth education programs offered by Oregon Sea Grant’s marine educators at the Hatfield Marine Science Center this fall.

Career Day, a program for 9th-12th-graders interested in exploring careers in marine science, takes place Oct. 23 from 9:30 am-3:30 pm. Participating teens will enjoy a full day of events including:

  • Hearing from researchers about upcoming projects and recent discoveries
  • Exploring science through hands-on activities and behind-the-scenes tours
  • Helping researchers collect data

Registration costs $25 per student. Information and registration are available on the HMSC Visitor Center website.

Home School Day, Nov. 6 from 10 am to 4 p.m., is a family program with activities grouped into “strands” of fun and educational activities  families will follow all day.  Registration is $25 per person. Learn more and register at the Visitor Center website.

Free overnight STEM camp for 7th-8th grade girls

NEWPORT – Seventh and eighth grade girls on the Oregon Coast can get a taste of what it’s like to be an engineer or marine scientist at a free overnight camp Aug. 17-18 at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center and the neighboring Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Sponsored by the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, the camp will give girls a chance to work with researchers at Hatfield Marine Science Center in the labs and in the field, and enjoy behind-the-scenes tours with women in aquarium careers. They’ll also get to spend the night in the Shark Tunnel at the Oregon Coast Aquarium! Meals are provided.

Registration is limited; learn more and sign up at

Now available: The 2015-16 Oregon Coast Quests Book

The 2015-16 edition of Oregon Sea Grant’s popular Oregon Coasts Quests Book is now available for sale. This 216-page, spiral-bound book features:Quests-book-cover

Directions for 24 Quests
Updates to existing Quests
Two brand-new Quests
Ten Quests created by youth
Quests in four Oregon counties (Lincoln, Coos, Curry, and Benton)
One Quest with directions in both English and Spanish

The book retails for $10 and is being sold by booksellers around the state. To find out where you can buy a copy, visit the booksellers page on the Quests website: If you happen to be or know of a bookseller interested in selling Quest books, please contact for ordering information.

Find us on Facebook
Oregon Coast Quests now has a Facebook page, where you can get updates, “like” the page, and share your Questing adventures with friends and neighbors:

Happy Questing!

Waldport High students help NOAA track ocean currents

R/V Oceanus crew launches Waldport High's drifter (photo by Jeff Crews)

R/V Oceanus crew launches Waldport High’s drifter (photo by Jeff Crews)

WALDPORT – Students at Waldport High School are excited about today’s successful launch of their unmanned sailboat, Phyxius, near the Equator by OSU’s R/V Oceanus, as part of a long-term national  project to better understand ocean currents and transport patterns.

The project, organized by Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, is part of  NOAA’s Educational Passages program, which enlists science, technology, engineering and math classes to build the miniature vessels and set them loose in ocean and coastal waters – and follow them via a NOAA tracking site to see where they go. More than 40 of the drifters have been launched since the program began in 2008.

The unmanned mini-sailboats are self-steering and equipped with GPS tracking devices to study ocean and wind patterns and much more. The five-foot vessels sail directly downwind month after month. As these boats travel the oceans, students can track them via and learn and improve their skills in map reading, geography, earth science, oceanography and more.

Waldport’s is just the third drifter to be launched in the Pacific. Most of the others have been launched into the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico. Drifters have landed in Europe, the Caribbean, Cuba, Bahamas, Panama, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia as well as many other places. Some have left Portugal and closely duplicated Columbus’s route to the new world, and another spent time on display in an Irish pub.

ROV teams compete for regional honors

Taft High School ROV team  launches Ocean's Hope at 2013 competitionLINCOLN CITY – —More than 150 elementary, middle school, high school and college students in 27 teams bring their underwater robots to the Lincoln City Community Center on May 10 to compete in the annual Oregon Regional MATE Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) contest. The event is free and open to the public.

The teams, which have spent the past few months designing and building the underwater vehicles, join students around the world participating in 23 regional contests supported by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center. Qualifying participants will earn the chance to advance to MATE’s International ROV Competition June 26 – 28, at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Michigan.

Coordinated by Oregon Sea Grant, the Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition encourages students from Astoria to Bandon and Bend to The Dalles, to develop and apply science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills as they work collaboratively to create working ROVs—tethered underwater robots used in ocean exploration, scientific research, and marine technology industries—to complete missions that simulate real-world tasks.

This year’s competition is thematically organized around the role of ROVs in exploring and documenting shipwrecks and conserving national maritime heritage sites such as the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where more than 50 shipwrecks are submerged. The competition helps students understand how chemical, biological and physical conditions can affect such archaeological sites.

Competing teams participating will perform a variety of underwater mission tasks, piloting their ROVs to identify a simulated shipwreck, collect microbial samples, inventory invasive species and remove debris. Students are challenged to think like entrepreneurs and form companies that develop creative solutions for engineering and constructing an ROV to document and explore a newly discovered wreck site. During the process, the students develop the teamwork, creative thinking and problem solving skills that make them competitive in today’s global workplace. The project requires them to solve problems in new and innovative ways, work as part of a team and understand all aspects of business operations—important 21st century skills.

Teams from the following schools and organizations are participating in the competition: Bandon High School, Cheldelin Middle School (Corvallis), Clatsop Community College (Astoria), Eddyville Charter School, Life Christian School (Aloha), Linn-Benton Community College (Albany), Meek Pro Tech High School (Portland), Oregon State University (Corvallis), Summit High School (Bend),,Taft 7-12 (Lincoln City), Tahola Middle School (Tahola, WA), The Dalles High School, Toledo Elementary, Toledo Jr/Sr High School, Waldport High School and Wasco County 4-H.

The Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition is supported by many sponsors, including Oregon State University, the Oregon Coast Regional STEM Center, Lincoln County School District, the Marine Technology Society-Oregon Chapter, the Siletz Charitable Contribution Fund, the Cascade Chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, and Tanger Outlet Mall. Local marine technology professionals and engineers volunteer as judges for the competition, evaluating the students’ ROVs, poster displays, and engineering presentations. Numerous other volunteers donate their time each year, serving as divers and support staff for the competition, making it a community-wide effort.

For more information,  contact Tracy Crews at

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Oregon Sea Grant partners in new regional STEM Hub grant

Youngsters explore wave energy lab at HMSCNEWPORT – Oregon Sea Grant is partnering with the Lincoln County School District to create a new Oregon Coast Regional STEM Hub to serve coastal communities from Astoria to Coos Bay.

The effort, under a $644,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Education, will be based at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center under the guidance of Sea Grant’s marine education team. The goal is to help equip teachers to better provide STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to k-12 students.

The grant is to the Lincoln County School District, which is partnering with Sea Grant, Tillamook School District and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The new STEM Hub is one of six across Oregon intended to foster 21st Century career skills, particularly for historically under-served student populations. The new Oregon Coast Regional STEM Hub will help provide coastal schools and educators with the tools and support necessary to deliver world-class STEM instruction to rural students.

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Investigating why kids lose interest in science, math

PORTLAND (StreetRoots News) – Nobody’s quite sure why, but toward the end of middle school students lose interest in science and math. Researchers at one Portland school want to learn why. By solving the mystery, they hope to reverse the trend.

Northeast Portland’s culturally diverse, working-class Parkrose Middle School is the subject of an investigation by Oregon State University researchers hoping to discover why science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, no longer appeals to many kids once they reach the eighth grade.

STEM has become a watchword for educators wanting a trained workforce capable of flourishing in an increasingly science-and-technology-driven global economy. Others say STEM is essential to create an informed citizenry able to weigh in on issues from climate change to bioengineering.

However, whereas much of STEM education is currently dominated by in-school curriculum changes, the OSU Parkrose project is traveling a different path.

“The data says if they [students] have interests and are engaged, good things will happen,” says OSU professor John Falk.

Falk heads OSU’s Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning. He’s organizing the Parkrose project and its small team with his wife, OSU professor Lynn Dierking.

Both are also associated with Oregon Sea Grant’s program in Free-Choice Learning – operated out of the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport – which seeks to systematically study how people learn about science in “free-choice” settings such as aquariums and musems, where they can follow their own interests, set their own pace and explore at will. …

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(This story was written by Nathan Gilles, a Portland writer and former Sea Grant Communications intern)