This challenge is a collaborative effort to get your MiniBoat across the Pacific Ocean. Boats launched off the United States west coast will hypothetically pass through the California, to the North Equatorial, to the Kuroshio, and the North Pacific currents. This event is a result of discussions between Xiamen University in China, the University of Maine, and Educational Passages. All Pacific Rim institutions and schools are invited to join this international event.
The mini-boats have an integrated GPS that transmits the boat’s position twice a day where it can be watched on the Internet. They are self-righting and sail straight downwind. Boats can be equipped with scientific sensors to monitor water and air temperature, barometric pressure, wave height, wave period, and wavelength. Launches will be coordinated in any of the Pacific Currents, but most likely in the Kuroshio or California Currents. Some hypothesize that the boats will follow the Pacific Currents south to the North Equatorial Current. Others think they will “break west” passing just north of Hawaii and proceed to the South Pacific and on to the Orient. Schools may launch their own boats, but we are available to help arrange launches by the Cal Maritime Academy, commercial ships, or possibly NOAA Research Vessels assuring they get started in the proper ocean currents.
If your boat lands on an inhabited island the chance of it being rescued, repaired, and relaunched is there. It could make landfall on an isolated shore, against a reef, or an uninhabited island, where, your voyage could come to an end. In the Atlantic, these boats are routinely making crossings but a circumnavigation of the entire Atlantic Gyre is still yet to be accomplished. Regardless of whether the mini-boat finds its way across the ocean, it will weave its way through multiple geographic, scientific and social learning paths. There will be no shortage of opportunities in marine science and international relations that will appear every day.
The Pacific Ocean, Earth’s largest and deepest ocean, faces serious environmental issues. Hypoxia-induced dead zones and municipal pollution harm the ocean’s ecosystems, while the Great Pacific Garbage Patch circulates around its northern gyre. We need international citizen scientists and ocean ambassadors to address these problems. Our Pacific Challenge aims to connect students to the ocean and its systems.