Cool Tools

Cool Tools

Written by Betty Trummel


I marvel at the tools that we use every day, and not just those we use here with the WISSARD Project.

I think of how I talked with my students this morning using Skype.  A couple of “clicks” on my laptop computer and there they were, waving to me from thousands of miles away.  Talking with the class made me feel connected to home.  I think about the early polar explorers who went years without seeing their families and friends.  Now, because of technology we can do that instantly.

Technology and science play an important role in our lives, and I am aware of those STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) connections which are part of the WISSARD Project.  This blog post is about “cool tools.”  Large or small, simple or complicated…this project involves tools.  Many tools….so many tools that when I started to catalog them with my camera today, I couldn’t believe all of the examples of science and technology we have at the drill/test site.

Take this instrument for example;  it is one of the tools being tested by the NIU team.  It’s nickname (an acronym of course) is the POP.  That stands for “physical oceanographic package.” That’s a fancy name for a fancy tool that does a whole lot of things at once.  Here it is, being lifted from the NIU container by the large crane.


I was wondering how the crane was being operated.  I couldn’t see anyone at the controls.  Then I noticed that Jeremy had a small remote control panel, hanging from a belt around his waist.  What a cool tool…and so important for lifting the scientific instruments we are using with WISSARD.


In the photo below the two top sections of the POP are being moved onto the drill deck, and would soon be attached to the bottom unit.  The bottom unit has two cameras…one looking to the side and one looking down the borehole.


Rudy and Mike from DOER (the company who made the tool) are attaching the power cables and connecting the bottom unit with the top two segments.


Today the POP was cleaned and wrapped in plastic until it was deployed into the hole.  This helps with clean access drilling.  Mike is guiding it out of the container and he is about to connect it to the crane to lift it up.


The huge hook on the crane is a tool….so are the heavy nylon cords which are flexible but strong enough to hold the tools while they are clipped into this hook.


Here is a video of them moving the crane to position the bottom section of the POP.

Today the POP was moved over the borehole and slowly lowered inside.  As the instrument was lowered, Jill (one of our scientists) carefully cut off the projective plastic.  Notice that she is wearing a tyvek clean white suit, also part of the clean drilling technology.


This shows how the POP tool was carefully lowered into the borehole.

Once the instrument is down in the hole, scientists continually monitor its progress in the command and control container.  Several computer screens are mounted side by side, displaying information that is retrieved by this piece of equipment.  This one device can measure the salinity (saltiness) of the water, determine the level of oxygen in the water, record the temperature of the water, measure the velocity (speed) of the current, determine the size of particles in the water, measure the amount of organic matter in the water, and show the distance that the tool is above the bottom of the sea floor.  ONE tool does all that!  It’s another cool tool.


So that’s a large, complex instrument.  Here are some large simple tools.  Take the tool below for example.  It is a pulley used to help guide the cable attached to the POP and the winch that holds the supply of cable.


What about these wrenches that Justin and I are holding…


Or the wheel and tracks on this tractor…


We have a number of different types of hoses, which are not necessarily tools, although they are used with tools are our site.  These rollers help guide the hose.


The piece below is a sort of shock absorber that is part of the hot water drill system.


The lathe (below) is a tool that can shape or fabricate pieces of metal, which can be used for repairing or modifying equipment at the site.


The mill drill is a precise drill press.


The bench grinder and wire wheel can be used for cleaning up and grinding down; for example they might do this on a newly cut piece of pipe.


Using science, technology, and engineering in our lives is essential.  This WISSARD drill and test site makes me realize how many people have come together to make this project happen.  So many tools were gathered and bits and pieces assembled either back in the United States, or on site.

When you look at these tools and pieces of equipment, how might they remind you of ways you used science, technology, or engineering in your life today?

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