The objective of Extreme Exposure is to brainstorm an environment you would like to explore—perhaps one you’ve never dared to look into before—then learn about the imaging tools needed to do that and design a version of at least one of them.
What’s an extreme environment? Space and the deep ocean easily come to mind but what about extreme environments closer to home? Are there environments in your house or backyard that you either can’t or don’t want to disturb but still want to explore. Perhaps a bird’s nest on your porch or backyard or the area behind your washing machine or refrigerator. Design a tool or imaging system that would allow you to see what is going on without disturbing the environment.
Meet the Expert: Allan Adams
Earth’s deep oceans may hold as many mysteries for scientists as deep space. Allan Adams, an MIT research scientist and founder of the Future Ocean Lab at MIT, believes that the depths of the world’s oceans may provide clues to solving climate change, help people live on Mars, better understand evolution, and more. That’s why his lab is developing low-cost, low-power imaging technologies that make marine research more accessible and is helping create imaging technologies that will illuminate the deep ocean’s secrets
The ocean covers 70% of the surface of Earth and contains 97% of its water. Yet we know less about the deep ocean than we know about outer space. What if the ocean holds clues to solving climate change, helping people live on Mars, or better understanding evolution?
Consider this: more than 500 men and women—as well as many dogs, cats, monkeys, mice, fruit flies, and other animals—have traveled in space, some making it to the Moon, 239,000 miles away, while only three humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean, the 6-mile-deep Marianas Trench in the western Pacific Ocean near the island of Guam.
The deep ocean, like outer space, is a hostile environment for humans. It’s dark, there’s no oxygen to breathe, and the pressure is immense. For every 10 meters you go below the surface of the ocean, the pressure increases by one atmosphere. Just a mile underwater the pressure is 250 atmospheres, or “about what your big toe would feel like if an elephant were standing on it,” according to the American Museum of Natural History.
A Glimpse in MIT: Girls Who Build Cameras
|Build a Pinhole Camera with the Curiosity Correspondents! (All Ages)
|Tools of Discovery (6-12)
|Create a tool designed to the specifications of your favorite extreme environment!
|Make a Sundial! (K-5)
|Recreate this ancient scientific tool and calibrate it to your location! Can you compare your results with a friend in a different time zone or latitude?
|Make a Compass! (6-12)
|Recreate this ancient tool of discovery and exploration at home!
|Make a Sextant! (6-12)
|Navigate the world using the position of celestial bodies as you guide!
This annotated reading list was curated in collaboration with the youth librarian team at the Lucius Beebe Library in Wakefield, MA. All titles were selected based on their relevance to the theme.
This video playlist provides additional information about Allan Adams and his work on ocean conservation.
This Pinterest board provides additional information about Allan Adams and his work on ocean conservation.
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- Your questions with us on the Extreme Exposure Forums!