LEGO Underwater Robot Explorers

This project combines LEGO Mindstorms, Scratch programming, and seawater into a playground of project-based learning and citizen exploration for budding engineers and explorers. As part of this outreach program, our team has developed a prototype of a buildable LEGO marine exploration vehicle kit — addressing some of the design challenges of building for the underwater context. Using this kit, we've also designed learning experiences for young people to build on top of it, making the vehicle more sophisticated and customized in order to execute marine science experiments of their design.

Join us for this playful workshop, where you get the chance to pilot a LEGO robot in the Charles River, learn more about the design process, and help us envision new directions for this project!

Led by: Katherine McConachie & Avery Normandin (MIT Media Lab), Harm van Beek (The Incredible Machine), John Paris (MIT), & Rachel Hwang (Wellesley College)


Play is a universal human need, reducing stress and supporting mental well-being. Swimming, surfing, diving and other water-based activities go as far back as we've been a species. But what if we could bring the ocean where there wasn't one? What if we could create new forms of games, sports, and activities that provided a deeper connection to the environment around us? How can we apply new materials and technologies to create playful experiences that take full advantage of the affordances of water? Please join us in creating excitement, wonder, and delight!

AquaGames is an ongoing series of workshops to explore, discuss, and design the history and future of play in, on, under, or with the water.

Led by: NovySan (MIT Media Lab)

Transmedia Storytelling

Tales of the ocean are the first we told. Stories are how we understand the patterns of reality. Film, Television, Graphic novels, Alternate Reality Games, projection mapping, podcasts and more, storytelling formats are exploding as new technologies allow artists, designers, and engineers to explore new ways of engaging audiences and weaving dreams. Join us as we seek the stories the ocean needs told and discover exciting new ways to tell them.

Led by: Dan Fields (Disney Imagineering), Emily Salvador (MIT Media Lab)

Shared Exploration Beyond the Screen

The ocean provides opportunity for serendipitous exploration. How can we recreate the joy of discovery and collaboration in constructed experiences and interfaces by leveraging affordances of the ocean? How can we make a virtual tide pool in someone's living room or simulate a deep sea voyage where new creatures are regularly discovered?

Led by: Catherine Havasi (Luminoso & MIT Media Lab)

Future Aquarium Experience

What is the future of the aquarium in a rapidly changing world? How can aquaria adapt to the evolving frontiers of technological progress, megacity growth, and increasing human impacts on the ocean? Join us to tackle these questions and more as we envision the Future Aquarium Experience!

Led by: Yihyun Lim & Scott Penman (MIT Design Lab), and Billy Spitzer (New England Aquarium)

Ocean in Transformation

The ocean speaks to all our senses. Gaps in the data, between modes of sensing, hint at new avenues of exploration and experience. Explorers and researchers must reach across disciplines to explore this undiscovered territory, ripe with new possibilities of creativity and expression.

The workshop is focused on finding emergent relationships between data affecting the understanding and transformation of the ocean. Starting with a base of detailed maps and overlaying a curated collection of datasets, participants will discover and explore new interconnections between modes of sensing the ocean and new ways of expressing and sharing the wonder and delight of it.

Led by: Markus Reymann (TBA21-Academy) & John Palmesino (Territorial Agency)

My Deep Sea, My Backyard

Seventy percent of nations have deep-sea environments within their maritime Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), yet only 16% of them are able to explore those environments. My Deep Sea, My Backyard is an initiative born out of the Here Be Dragons conference held at the MIT Media Lab last February. Since then, a multidisciplinary team built two pilot programs that delivered simple, effective deep-sea camera technology and training to the nations of Kiribati and Trinidad & Tobago. In this workshop, we will introduce low-cost technologies that enable deep sea exploration, share learnings from the pilot program, and brainstorm opportunities for expanding this program to other regions.

Led by: Diva Amon (NHM), Randi Rotjan (BU), Alan Turchik (NGS), Brennan Phillips (URI), & Alexis Hope (MIT Media Lab)

This workshop explores how to design and implement a pop-up marine discovery lab. We will discuss how to identify areas of interest and inquiry, methods of marine sensing, and how to design an experiment using these parameters. It will also touch on getting community involvement and making use of data generated from a pop-up lab.

Led by: David Kong, Devora Najjar, & Teja Jammalamadaka (MIT Media Lab), Neil Gemmel (University of Otago)

Designing A Pop-Up Discovery Lab

Telepresence Across Scales

How do we construct systems for remote collaboration and manipulation by groups of explorers with different interests and skill sets, given constraints like scarce (or expensive) bandwidth, long communication latency, and small budgets? And further how do we make these systems scale to match different contexts and communities, including education and public outreach? Help define the ideal remote presence environment, supporting easy setup of participants in multiple locations, incorporation of data and imagery from sensor networks and autonomous vehicles, and immersive experiences -- and then we’ll try to figure out how to build it in the real world. Includes live connection with NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and E/V Nautilus.

Led by: Mike Bove (MIT Media Lab) & Brian Kennedy (BU)

Seafloor to Satellites: Crowdcomputing and Data Across Scales

Deep ocean ecosystems are an important component of our planet, but they remain scientifically under explored. Traditionally, research on the ocean ecosystems has been decentralized and scattered, involving small teams of experts, on single ships, traveling to distant locations, and mapping oceans as much as possible within a limited time. This has restricted rapid advancement and sharing of scientific knowledge of the ocean with broader communities. While the advent of deep learning and an unprecedented growth of the seafloor and satellite datasets provide an exciting opportunity to decode patterns in deep ocean ecosystems, these datasets are unlabeled, decentralized, and disorganized. In addition, existing deep learning algorithms often fail to capture and incorporate human insights and local knowledge in scientific explorations. This heightens the need for designing a centralized citizen science platform for collectively studying and exploring the ocean. Toward this goal, we present foundational and methodological building blocks required to design the platform. This work makes several contributions to the open ocean exploration community. First, we illustrate the science of crowd powered computational ecosystem. Second, we explore incentive mechanisms to accomplish high cognitive overload tasks and augment human-AI performance at scale. Third, we discuss ethics and best practices of designing and empowering a sustainable community of citizen scientists. We provide an important opportunity to harness crowdcomputing and AI for deep ocean exploration.

Led by: Neil Gaikwad (MIT Media Lab), Max Vilgalys & Jeremy Stroming (MIT), and Ben Woodward (CVision AI)