Grant Recipients

MATE Inspiration for Innovation (MATE II) and StoryCenter

Using the power of storytelling to inspire innovation

The MATE ROV Competition, in partnership with the StoryCenter, will use the Great Blue Challenge grant to empower student participants to reflect, document, and share their stories of how the competition has impacted their lives, education, and career paths; increased their awareness and understanding of ocean issues; and motivated them to work collaboratively, within the competition setting and beyond. The project will showcase diversity (gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status) to inspire other students to participate and gain confidence they can become the leaders, innovators, and problem-solvers of the future.

MATE Inspiration for Innovation (MATE II) is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to providing students with educational experiences where they are inspired and supported to develop their technical, problem-solving, and entrepreneurial skills.

StoryCenter We create spaces for transforming lives and communities, through the acts of listening to and sharing stories. Our public program enables people to register individually for storytelling workshops. Our custom program collaborates with organizations around the world, on workshops in story facilitation, digital storytelling, and other forms of participatory media production.

Dobyns-Bennett High School

Ocean Processes Capstone Course

Bringing the ocean to the classroom

“The act of physically interacting with marine animals is completely different from watching a video or something synthetic. It provides that real connection with the animal that cannot be substituted by anything else, and in the people, who are interested by the animals, that physical interaction will be the key factor in them deciding to pursue Marine Sciences. When they are there with the animals, the connection is made and will forever impact the students. I know this is true because the same thing happened to me.” Dobyns-Bennett student, Val Giaudrone.

The Great Blue Challenge grant will enable Dobyns-Bennett to provide a unique learning experience and connection to the ocean by funding a salt water aquarium and ecosystem in the classroom. In addition to hands on and real time marine learning, students in the school’s technology and robotics programs are developing and building an ongoing monitoring and maintenance using the Raspberry Pi platform and a webcam. Located in Kingsport, Tennessee, some of the Dobyns-Bennett students may never experience the ocean first hand.

The aquarium and included ecosystem provide a unique experience for students to interact and apply classroom learnings into a live environment. Students from multiple disciplines will benefit from collaborating on this unique opportunity – both as they establish the ecosystem and develop the technology to support it.


Robotic Video Reef Observations project

Marco Island Academy is a public charter high school, serving grades 9-12 in Naples Florida. The six-acre campus serving grades 9-12, is in close proximity to the Florida Everglades and surrounded by natural wetlands, mangroves, and waterways. MIA has a STEM focus in ocean related topics and has been active in the MATE ROV underwater robotics competition.

Under the direction of science and engineering instructor, Mr. Frank Wood, MIA students constructed an artificial reef near a local boat dock.

The Great Blue Challenge grant will allow the placement of remote-controlled, networked video cameras around the student-constructed reef. The cameras will enable students to stream the development of this new habitat live and will provide an instructional benefit, not only to Mr. Wood’s engineering and robotic students, but also to other students within the school, and to students in classrooms worldwide. MIA teachers will be able to project the live reef environment to their classrooms and structure exciting activities around it; the MIA engineering classes will be able to complete their instructional requirements experiencing the challenges of robotic solutions; and, schools around the world will be able to participate in the projects benefits in their own classrooms. MIA expects the project to provide meaningful instructional activities for years.


Girls in Engineering and Maritime Science (GEM)

Oglethorpe Charter School is a Savannah, Georgia, middle-school serving grades 6 to 8. This Great Blue Challenge winner’s grant will be used in three areas: 1) to create the Girls Engineering, Marine Science, and other STEM Careers program, known as GEMS, for seventh and eighth grade minority female students; 2) to promote interest in marine science and STEM though researching real world ocean issues using Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (ROVS) at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary; and 3) enable GEMS students to conduct a study of the marine eco-system then present their at the STEM Forum in Athens, Georgia, and Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Film Festival, in Savannah, Georgia.

GEMS students will learn to construct Triggerfish ROVS and camera systems and will use them to closely study reef biodiversity, the effects of marine debris, or participate in the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) program to collect data on fish populations in and around Gray’s Reef.


Low-Power Wave Energy Converter

Ocean Motion Technologies, a start-up company founded by the University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography doctoral student, Jack Pan, has constructed a low-power wave energy converter. This modular mechanical system can convert kinetic energy from ocean waves to compressed air for power generation and energy storage—solving a space and cost problem that plagues other systems. In 2017, Ocean Motion joined Blue Tech Incubator, managed by The Maritime Alliance, to turn their idea into a product with plans to commercialize it within four different sectors: replacement market, scientific/maritime applications, aquaculture/permaculture, and defense.

In 2018, they moved their project and business team operations to the Technology Career Institute on the campus of MiraCosta College in Carlsbad, CA, in order to accelerate design and development. MiraCosta College has developed a close partnership with the San Diego Maritime Alliance to help promote Blue Tech jobs in the San Diego Region.

The Great Blue Challenge grant will be used to help further develop this innovative technology.