Last fall, 7th and 8th grade students from St. Dominic Elementary began exploring topics relating to the quality, health and motion of the element which covers 72% of the Earth’s surface, water. From their floating laboratories (Sonars), students conducted water quality tests measuring dissolved oxygen content, temperature, salinity, specific gravity, turbidity, PH, nitrates and nitrites. On shore, they learned about the forces that cause the water to move in several different ways. The young scientists studied the effects that celestial bodies (the moon and sun) have on the ocean’s tides, the ways that seismic activity and wind can generate swells (systems of waves), and the various types of ocean currents including; tidal currents, gyres, and thermohaline circulation. After discussing the global problem of ocean pollution, students created presentations demonstrating the ‘life cycles’ of commonly found pieces of marine debris. These projects helped to raise awareness about how litter on land can make its way into the marine environment. The fall session culminated with an experiment using the displacement method to measure the volume of an irregularly shaped object. This method, combined with the use of a scale to measure mass, allows students to measure the density of irregularly shaped objects, a necessary step towards determining whether or not the object will be buoyant. This skillset would prove very useful in the spring. Investigation into underwater exploration began after the holidays and in groups of 2 or 3 students conducted independent research projects to study a particular piece of the history of underwater exploration. After compiling their research, students taught their classmates about the progression of underwater exploration technology beginning in the 1700’s and into the present day. Students created their own presentations of various submarines, dive machines, ROVs, AUVs, Aqua-Lungs and more. In one particularly fun demonstration, a shop-vac was used to “vacuum seal” a student’s body (Don’t worry parents, it was from the neck down!) into a black garbage bag to demonstrate the 14.7 pounds per square inch of air pressure (also referred to as 1 atmosphere or atm for short) present at sea-level. Armed with their newfound knowledge students set out to answer the question: “What’s beneath the surface of the water in Oyster Bay?”. To answer this question, students constructed remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) to explore the depths of West Harbor. The ROV project required a multi-phase design process that can be broken down into 7 major milestones; design, fabrication, neutral buoyancy, stability, testing, competition, and expedition. Winning teams from the competition fitted an infra-red camera to their ROV with hopes of discovering what lies beneath the waves of Oyster Bay. Unfortunately, turbid (cloudy) water caused by wave action prevented students from seeing much. Despite the challenges presented along the way, the competitions and expeditions have proven to be some of the most exciting and engaging STEAM activities to date. This spring marks the end of two years of STEAM for St. Dominic’s eighth graders. This group is the first to complete both the ‘Wind’ and ‘Water’ units. They have learned about connections between STEAM topics, the marine environment, and the sport of sailing while developing a deeper personal connection to their local waterways and confidence in solving real world problems.