By Paige Taylor and Liana Bordonaro

Recently, the Viking Explorers have been journeying on their quest to explore the ocean blue. From the Riverhead Aquarium to Tappen Beach, we’ve pretty much been everywhere. For all of the curious readers out there, here is a brief montage of the 8th grade elective so far.

If you are interested about this course and want to see our wonderful montage, visit our Youtube page.

First, the Viking Explorers made their expedition to Tappen Beach. This is where we tested out our first ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), and observed the small creatures living locally. Unfortunately, the ROV did not work as well as we expected. Nevertheless, the Viking Explorers got to learn a lot about marine animal behaviors and habitats.

In between the expedition to Tappen and our next voyage, the Viking Explorers team created a smaller team of ROVs: SeaPerches. For weeks, our team drilled, soldered, and assembled our way to a whole new line of PVC ROVs. By creating new precedents for future 8th graders, the Viking Explorers hope to explore the unknown.

The Viking Explorers then made their second voyage to Port Washington Yacht Club. Here, we gave our newly created Sea Perches a test run. It was a huge success! Every single ROV there worked perfectly: we even had an obstacle course! All of the footage was recorded on our GoPros.

The third expedition of the Viking Explorers was to the Roslyn Pond. We dropped our SeaPerches into the water yet again, this time exploring the local ponds and bogs. Most of the footage was sand and sticks, but we did capture an awesome speed-motion video of fish! Sorry, Roslyn Pond, for disturbing your geese. It was an accident. Sort of.

The Viking Explorers set out for their fourth expedition to the Fire Island Lighthouse. Unfortunately, the weather conditions were too poor to put our ROVs in the water. However, we managed to climb to the very top of the lighthouse. The view was amazing! The determined climbers even received certificates for their hard work . In addition, we also learned a lot about Fresner lighthouse lens, and reflections/refractions of light. What an *enlightening* experience!

Our most recent and fifth expedition was to the Riverhead Aquarium. During this time, our team pet stingrays, observed bugs/birds/butterflies, and much more. We made stingray friends like Troublemaker and Mr. Brown (because he’s *BROWN*), and even made our ROVs ‘swim’ in the water with the fish! We learned a lot about sea lions, penguins, fish tanks, and more, gathered a lot of great footage, and overall had a great time.

Starting this week, the Viking Explorers are starting our newest project: soap. A major problem in everyday society is hypoxia. The chemical runoff from residences and factories make their way into our major waterways. Not only do these toxic chemicals pollute the water, but it also causes major algae blooms. This causes waterways to appear thick and green, and blocks oxygen from going down to fish and other sea creatures.

The Viking Explorers are currently working to help this cause. By creating soap for consumers, we hope to donate money to develop solutions for this terrible occurrence. With your help, we can SAVE THE SOUND!

Some people may be wondering: Why go on all these trips? Why expend resources and precious time to make these weird robots? Before I answer this question, I have a question to ask you.

Only 20% of the Earth’s waters have been discovered.

Ever wonder why?

Our underwater galaxy holds billions of secrets, all undiscovered. If we fuel the younger generations with curiosity and innovation, we will be able to finally explore that 80%. By starting early with new ideas and technologies, we can finally come to know our ocean blue—and our Earth—as home.