Science Students Use PTC Creo to Monitor Gulf Currents

When it comes to place-based education, coastal communities like Newburyport, MA are rife with opportunities for area science teachers and their students to engage in hands-on academic study that has real ecological importance. It’s a concept that Dr. John Terry, president and founder of the Gulf of Maine Institute (GOMI) knows well.

GOMI is a not-for-profit organization that has been spearheading community-based initiatives with teams of students and teachers throughout the Gulf of Maine watershed for more than a decade.

 “Our mission is to inspire and prepare youth to become stewards of the watershed,” Terry said.

This year, the organization tasked students and teachers with designing, deploying and tracking surface drifters that will monitor currents in the Gulf of Maine, which stretches from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia.Collected data helps GOMI and its teams understand why some sea creatures, like the Asian shore crab and leatherback sea turtle, are washing ashore. The studies can lead to the protection of certain at-risk species and help prevent invasive species from off-setting the ecology of the watershed. Equally important, the project connects students to science in a meaningful way.

Among the students involved this year were a group that used PTC Creo CAD software and a 3D printer to create secure housing for the drifter’s satellite.

Image: GOMI drifter, courtesy Gulf of Maine Institute

“These 3D-printed housings are a unique technology that will be used by NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] and GOMI for future drifters around New England,” teacher Brad Balkus said. “For the teachers involved, this is about authentic problem-solving using real world science, engineering design, and technology in a hands-on environment.

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[Ed. At PTC, we believe our future and the sustained success for our customers depend on each new generation of students. Through our academic programs, we offer access to a modern product development education designed around real-world challenges. Learn more here.]