NETWORK BLUE

Objectives


Network Blue leverages low-cost technology to dramatically lower the cost of ocean science and its accessibility to citizens. Think "Maker Movement meets ocean science".

Students build, deploy and maintain an AusOcean "rig", contributing to a global citizen-science network. This requires a mix of technical skills, communication skills, teamwork skills and more. Furthermore, unlike student competitions in which teams win or lose, with Network Blue the "winner" is our ocean environment. Different schools are encouraged to collaborate, pool their resources and share information.

While Network Blue complements school science and tech (STEM) programs, it potentially appeals to a broad range of students, including those that might not otherwise be interested in STEM. Non-technical learning opportunities span outdoor education, water sports, community engagement, collaborating with and recruiting other schools, fundraising and entrepreneurship, and more.

Students direct their own learning via our online learning platform Network Blue School STEM Program.

Challenges

The difficulty of building a rig is within the capabilities of a typical high school, however, the biggest technical challenge is reducing component costs (other than electronics). The harshness of the marine environment demands marine-grade components, which are usually expensive, in particular, waterproof connectors. AusOcean attempts to minimise the use of such connectors by incorporating simple, robust and tested interfaces. The construction requires care as poor craftsmanship may result in leakages. We are exploring innovative ways to further drive down costs through a combination of off-the-shelf components, 3D printing, and specialized assembly processes.

Another challenge is that rigs are vulnerable to failures however, we view these as valuable learning opportunities that drive further technological developments. We have defined standard procedures to reduce the risk of such occurrences, which include detailed construction guides and maintenance schedules for post deployment. Following guides closely is imperative as rig infrastructure is designed to remain at sea for months at a time. Remote monitoring and management (RMM) allows us to observe rig device and software behaviour for performance and diagnostic purposes. We do this via AusOcean's NetReceiver cloud service.

We are opening the program to more schools in 2022. Please contacts us at networkblue(at)ausocean.org for more information.

Our Partners

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