KakiFlynn.us & Dr. Sylvia Earle's DOER Marine Host Hackathon for Women & Girls

Winning team from Fishackathon held at DOER Marine and hosted by Liz Taylor & Kaki Flynn. The Girl Scouts and members of the Rooftop Alternative School, as well as tech mentor Heidi Proske from Capital One.

Students giving their ideas for how to solve the ghost fishing net problem.

hosted by Kaki Flynn & Liz Taylor at DOER Marine

As much fun as you would imagine it to be co-hosting a hackathon for women and girls at the home of Dr. Sylvia Earle and Liz Taylor, the CEO of DOER Marine.

We were excited to host all of the Girl Scout Troops and ocean friends that came to the Fishackathon this Earth Day weekend, and look forward to all of the upcoming ocean events that will be hosted here as well.

Snapshot of All the Fun We Had (You Join Us Next Time If You Missed It)
The U.S. Department of State Division of Global Partnerships supported this Fishackathon, held in over 40 sites around the globe.

In addition to the hackathon at DOER Marine (Deep Ocean Exploration Research) we had a speaker from NASA, Liz Cunningham from the Outward Bound Center for Peacebuilding, as well as mentors that included professional sailor, aerospace engineer and successful technical start-up founder Nehal Gajjar as well as technical diver and Mission Blue board member Carolina La Rotta Dratva.

A marine biologist and ocean photographer popped by as well to help out the girls.

Heidi Proske, an app developer for Capital One, was a key technology mentor on hand.

One of the Girl Scout leaders, Yvonne Nunn from Troop 33184, brought Girl Scouts Michelle and Yahkirah.

Nunn, who is in the U.S. Coast Guard, appreciated hearing from the NASA speaker, who highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion.

In an innovation lab filled with prototype submersibles, remote operated vehicles and great people, these kids thrived and came up with brilliant ideas.

The Remote Operation Vehicle Command Center. The same way the people in the command center at NASA are key to the success of a mission, the same goes for the people that are 'topside' in an ocean expedition. 

Hackers hard at work at Dr. Sylvia Earle's Innovation Lab called DOER Marine, run by her daughtet Liz Taylor.

Problem: Ghost Nets


Pitch #2

What if the retrieved ghost nets could be made into a reusable sustainable building material?PDT

Pitch #3
Written by students.

Youth Participants: 
Rooftop Alternative PreK-8 School
California Girl Scout Troops 30159, 31084, 33184

DOER TrackNet App
Ghost Nets are a very real problem. Using the DOER TrackNet app, fishermen could alert the Coast Guard that they have found a ghost net. Citizens could enter information that would help to geotrack entangled marine life and build a databank of information about problem spots.

Ghost icon signaling a net (with animal icon if entangled) when the net is retrieved, the users personal animal icon signals all clear.

Creating a community of DOERS
Using the DOER TrackNet app would encourage the creation of a community of doers working together to help the ocean.

Instruction for youth activity - Educating youth groups (Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, etc. through the hands-on experiences, empathy activity using ghost nets and the design of a badge/patch using ghost nets. The app will allow youth to submit their suggestions of ways to repurpose nets.

The app will educate and engage the public on the issue of ghost nets by giving the average citizen an opportunity to help the ocean and the biodiversity, that in turn supports us all. The DOER TrackNet app will also serve as a valuable STEM/STEAM education resource helping citizen scientists to gather and share valuable data on the issue. 

  • Improved global relations 
  • Collaborative effort with the common goal of helping the oceans 
  • Empowering next generation of stewards, the children of the world
  • Citizen engagement and shared sense of success
  • Sustainability
  • New revenue streams provide alternatives for stressed communities
Fishing Industry
What if fishermen could make a living fishing for ghost nets, instead of fish?
Fishermen need to be able to make a living to care for themselves and feed their families. The app would provide a general estimate of the value of a haul of ghost nets based on estimated dimensions/tonnage.

Building Industry
We had architect and Girl Scout Troop leader Young Wong on hand to give guidance and mentoring for some real-world advice to the Girl Scouts about building materials that could use:di Wong (@artsed4all) on

Introducing Fiber-Reinforced Netting Panel (FRNP) Re-use of ghost netting as a reinforcing material combined with cementitious or fiber glass building material would allow for a free form panel. 

The Benefits:
Reuse of sustainable material
Cost – using free form panels would save on labor 
Jobs - creation of new industry
Environment - Helps the Ocean!

Ocean Science Research & Industry 
Open source data will with Deep Ocean Exploration & Research (DOER) – Raises awareness of ocean research, use of ROVs and the multigenerational contributions of DOER (founded by oceanographer Sylvia Earle and curreAlameda #Fishackathon at DOER Marine tackling the problem of ghost nets in the oceans with ROVs & girl power!#codeforfish
A photo posted by And


How do women & girls tackle the problem of ghost nets in our oceans?
They visit DOER Marine to learn with Kaki Flynn & Liz Taylor for the Alameda #Fishackathon.
Every year 640,000 tons of fishing gear is lost or abandoned in our oceans:

Power to the Doers

A photo posted by Andi Wong (@artsed4all) on

Space Foundation Competition Uses NOAA & NASA Data to Solve Hard Problems

At the start of the StellarXplorers competition,
hosted by the U.S. Air Force Academy at the Space Foundation. 

Thanks to the United States Air Force Academy for the invitation to the National High School Space Competition called the StellarXplorers.

Both a great honor and of course just plain geek fun being a mentor for the Space Symposium competition sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Association and held at the Space Foundation that brought together top students in STEM from around the United States.

The intense competition included using both NASA and NOAA data as well as advanced satellite tracking tools.

The real-world situations were a welcome challenge for the students, and the Space Symposium and Space Foundation provided a fun, inspirational setting with NASA astronauts, U.S. Air Force officials from many different divisions as well as SpaceX, Boeing and other top executives on hand to speak to the students.

:Thanks to Gwynne Shotwell from SpaceX for going out of her way to meet these AP Physics students.

The StellarXplorers program is designed to inspire and attract high school students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and careers through hands-on learning about technology, emphasizing teamwork and leadership, and exercising critical-thinking skills.

StellarXplorers is sponsored by the US Air Force STEM Program, DoD STEM Program, United Launch Alliance, Orbital ATK, Kratos Defense, and SpaceX, as well as additional educational support of AGI, CEI, and the Space Foundation.

A big benefit of the StellarXplorers was getting to explore the Space Symposium and meet experts from Boeing to - of course! - NASA. Here with my cousin and AP Physics student and national finalist Sareta Gladson. Her grandfather founded the Los Angeles Maritime Institute, so building vessels to explore the unknown is in our blood.
The biggest lesson here? When you turn things over to the students, you get really great uniforms like this; a print of Buzz Aldrin with your name printed across the chest as your formal uniform. Just beyond awesome:

STEAMD Dream Workshop: Disney Film Director, Artist,Imagineer George Scribner

Disney Director George Scribner with workshop organizer Kaki Flynn.
We had a great time putting on two workshops with Disney Director George Scribner, who went to high school in my hometown of Jacksonville, Fla.

We put on a film director workshop as well as a three-day painting workshop, the perfect combination to build the best STEAMD teams.

After being an instructor at a film camp in Jacksonville, I realized the kids I was teaching could use some inspiration from someone of the caliber of Scribner. 

Thanks to the award-winning film producer Kim Murray, film student and now talented film maker in her own right Kaitlyn Hamby as well as Lauren Christopher, another film student that is currently living her dream as a sports broadcaster.

So, How Do I Become a Disney Director?
Here is the complete Q&A, so that anyone who has questions about how to become a film director as well as an Imagineer for Disney.

These are the original STEAM guys, combining cutting-edge technology, the arts and animation since the 1970's.

Don't miss a second of this 8-part Q&A to hear about behind-the-scenes stories from The Lion King, the Imagineers, Star Wars, Disney's Nine Old Men, John Lasseter, Jeffrey Katzenberg and other legends in the industry.

Part I: Moving to the Big Leagues
Part 2: Chance Favors the Prepared
Part 3: How to Get Noticed
Part 4: Imagineering: Walt Disney's Dream
Part 5: The Lion King: Behind the Scenes with the Original Director
Part 6: The Director's Gut: Standing Up for What You Believe In
Part 7: What Does Disney Animation Look For?
Part 8: Give Back, Give Back, Give Back

Thank you to these people that helped me make both this Q&A, attended by 100 people, as well as the sold-out 3-day oil painting workshop held on the same weekend awesome:

Hire people smarter than you. I did.
Hank Bachara, 
Conner Green, Lauren Christopher, Kaitlyn Hamby, Kaki Flynn, 

Nita Curtis, Samad Banks, Kim Murray.


Stanton College Preparatory School Film Students
Kaitlyn Hamby (Key Production Assistant)
Lauren Christopher (Production Assistant)
Conner Green (Production Assistant, Photographer)
Hank Bachara (Production Assistant)

Special Thanks to
Nita Curtis


Emily Moody (Owner, Underbelly)
Provided space for the Q&A
Set up audio & lighting for Q&A
Promoted the Q&A through flyers and cards

Provided food and beverages for George Scribner


Provided three days of space for the oil painting workshop
Set-up, Oil Painting Workshop

Sponsorship Benefits
50 comp tickets to alumni, students and staff of AI for Q&A
Discount to AI students to attend painting workshop
Mention in all ads and promotions

Oil Painting Workshop
Special thanks to Bill Kivi, Professor of Animation, Art Institute of Jacksonville
Kivi was a liaison for me for the Art Institute, and was a huge help in coordinating logistics with the school. He also designed two AI-specific posters for both events and a multi-media "commercial" that played at the school promoting the events, announced the event in his classes, and placed posters around the school, getting the word out to hundreds of students.

Kim Murray Productions
Finalist, Producer's Guild of America Short Contest
Set-up Q&A logistics, audio, production coordinator
Coordinated filming of Q&A, including obtaining one of  the top directors
 in Jacksonville, Florida to film
Promoted workshops to vast film and television network in Jacksonville


Samad Banks 
Director, Q&A filming
Video production
Finalist, Producer's Guild of America Short Contest


Reddi-Arts has been serving Jacksonville for over 50 years. They bent over backwards to take in out-of-town orders for me, which made up 9 of the 11 people that took the workshop. Great to support a local supplier that supports the arts community!

Official supplier for art workshop

Discount for workshop participants

The Island Art Association is a non-profit cooperative of 
local artists in Fernandina Beach and Nassau County, Florida 
whose goal is to further the arts and fine art education

Over $500 towards tuition plus free or subsidized lunch for some of the attendees donated to the Island Art Association to cover the tuition of each of the 6 attendees of the workshop from the Island Art Association of Amelia Island, Florida.

The IAA promoted the event through their very valuable and targeted email list.

Media Coverage & Promotions
  • Posted links and promotional images on over 30 different pages
  • Sent over 40 influential artists and filmmakers in the Jacksonville area personal emails.
Sent over 100 people and groups tweets about George Scribner's two workshops, including groups from Imagineering, Disney, Animation, Painting, Film Schools and Art, with many retweeting the event. 

A huge help from many, many people.

Pocket Planet Walk

Here is a great reminder of the way math can be used to appreciate one of the most beautiful things all of us on planet Earth enjoy together - the night sky, and the planets that share our Universe.

It's also an important reminder for those of us that love STEM that the point is solving problems, it doesn't always have to be high-tech at first.

I'll carry these cards in my Junior Ranger uniform pocket during astronomy lessons:

  • 2 index cards
  • Can use pens/crayons to draw diagrams if you don't have printer
  • Laminator or clear heavy-duty packing tape to "waterproof" cards
  • Objects to use as planet 
Card I: create these planets using guidelines below. Thanks to fellow ranger Sergio Typhoon for making these!

Card II: Rest of planets. Thanks to fellow Junior Ranger Sergio Typhoon for making these!
Back of Card I

Back of Card II


Look at the card above with columns labeled Diameter/Miles/Inches to give you a size ratio for each planet.

Use these items below, or - please - build or find your own that will work.

For example, if you are in Jacksonville Beach in Florida, the size comparisons for the planets could easily be built using sand and shells from the beach.


Redwood pinecone
(reasonable you don't have; black olive is good stand-in to give you an idea for size but probably want to find something a little less squishy of that size to tape to card.)

espresso bean

coffee bean

grain of sand
note: This "planet" stays because I use as a part of a lesson on "what is a planet"

pin (head of pin is planet size)



pin (head of a pin is planet size)

I use the campfire as the sun. This is where you get to be creative depending on where you are.

If you want to do this with a group so that everyone ends up with his/her own "Mini-Planet Walk" kit, place the planets in a pile (so 9 in each pile), and have people guess what order the planet's should be in and what size each planet should be before giving them the master guide with the answers.

I do mine in a huge open field in the Redwoods, a stretch of beach, or along a fire road.

I have the advantage of spending a lot of time in National and State Parks, but I urge you to be creative.

You can do this inside in a long school hallway or on a football field.

Prepare as many trivia questions using the website below as you have people in your group.
When someone gets a trivia question right, assign them a planet. If you have more than 9 people, make people:

Meteors that (gently) land on planet surface
Other Galaxies
Person that is "Mercury" takes 5 steps from the Sun, and then each person goes one at a time, following the number of steps listed on the guide until last person takes 499 steps.

Of course, depending on time, can guesstimate steps, or build an easy way to calculate this distance other than steps. Let me know if you have suggestions!

Most cities have astronomy nights hosted by Planetariums or museums. Amateur astronomers will bring out personal telescopes; some of them even homemade.  If you can't make it to your state or national park, start here.

Astronomy night at a museum. Astronomers brought out homemade telescopes.


Sergio Typhoon, Junior Ranger


Kaki Flynn (left) with DOER Marine owner and ocean explorer Liz Taylor, daughter of Dr. Sylvia Earle.

Women Build Submersibles

Liz Taylor and her husband Ian Griffith run DOER Marine, started by her very famous mom, Sylvia Earle, in 1992. 

Earle, a force in the ocean world, has impacted everything from conservation to the world of submersibles and deep ocean exploration. 

Taylor recently worked on James Cameron's team responsible for the Deepsea Challenger expedition to the Mariana Trench.

"We dealt with safety-related parts of his submersible," said Taylor. "We did the review of the life support, the weight release strategy, and making sure there was some redundancy in those systems, which we had a large body of knowledge to draw from after years of designing subs built to hold from one to ten people."

For Taylor, it was a dream assignment.

"It was an experimental design, and a nice collaboration among many groups," says Taylor, who said a rewarding part of the project was reviewing each others work.

"We have our own machine shop, which also helped,"said Taylor.

One of the interesting challenges was the weight-release strategy. 

Cameron could get himself to the bottom of the Trench; the next big challenge was getting himself back up to the surface.

"There are a number of different ways to make that happen," says Taylor.

One part of that strategy is to drop weights, one is to drop pellets, and another option is to add an electric charge to a bolt, allowing you to shed more weight. 

DOER Submersibles was originally designed to be marine consulting work, but expanded in 1995 to include custom vehicles.

"We primarily build applied science ROVs," says Taylor. "Anywhere from 10 to 67 horsepower, which fills a niche that can't be served by the traditional vehicles and the war-class vehicles are overkill."

DOER investors include Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google and the founder of the Marine Science Technology Foundation.

The goal of the program Schmidt backed includes the build of two submersibles, the testing infrastructure to support them, along with other deep water equipment testing, and a glass research and development program.

In addition to working with moguls such as Cameron and Schmidt, DOER's clients are mostly universities, or people doing critical infrastructure inspections (dams, bridges).

"We can tailor each system to customers using common building blocks that let us customize it," says Taylor. "We have a lot of flexibility to meet size constraints."

One of the most interesting projects for Taylor and her husband has been a Sub Ice Rover that was built for Northern Illinois University to be taken to the polar regions.

"It was a nice collaboration between the National Science Foundation, NOAA, the Moore Foundation and other groups," says Taylor.

This sub needed to be stretched into a long pencil shape so that it could fit down an ice boar hole 22 inches in diameter and 3,300 feet long.

"Once it's under the ice shelf, it unfolds itself like a kid's transformer toy," says Taylor. "This way particle analyzers and all kinds of testing equipment can have access to sea water."

 The Sub Ice Rover can spend up to ten days under the surface, bringing up terra bytes a day of data, as well as samples.

The ROV's DOER builds have also been used to support other projects, such as an ROV that supports the Pisces submersible at the University of Hawaii and the Aloha Station Observatory. 

Rated to 6,000 meters, the ROV was built to handle multiple missions, whether that's normal deep water exploration or sampling tasks.

Taylor's journey, long before building her own ROV's, started as a kid in the Florida ocean and growing up tagging along on her mom's ocean adventures both big and small. 

"We had a pet whelk shell nicknamed Lawrence," says Taylor. 

If you are Sylvia Earle, of course you are going to have the ocean all around you and your daughter, even on dry land.

"We had a salt water aquarium on the counter, and we learned how to properly collect sea life and press seaweed at age two," she adds, details that would come as no surprise to anyone that has met her mom, known in the ocean world as Her Deepness.

Similar to stories told by the Cousteau children, her entire scuba instruction consisted of, "breathe normally." 

Taylor says she was around 8 or 9 years old the day she learned how to scuba dive while on a collecting trip with the Steinhart family in Hawaii, another "ocean famous" clan.

She did eventually get officially certified at the age of 12 through the NAUI while in the Bahamas and working with the HydroLab Mission with her mom.  

"She was living underwater and I was doing surface support," says Taylor.

"After I got my certification at age 12, I had to deliver to the lab a gallon of ice cream and Mount Gay Rum," Taylor jokes.

For all the decades of exploring and now building ROVs she has had the chance to participate in, what does Taylor see looking to the future of all things ocean?

"It's nice to see a little bit more of a move towards collaboration and sharing of data," says Taylor. 

"For so many years we have seen data hoarding."

She has also seen increased pressures on our ocean from things we are taking out of the ocean by mining rare earth metals, as well as a conflict with things we are putting in such as plastics and dispersants. 

"The better information we share, the better chances we have of meaningful, informed decisions being made," says Taylor. "We have a tremendous ways to go."

As far as exploring with or without people, Taylor says that DOER still advocates for the need for people in the sea, and for human-occupied habitats and submersibles.

"We can just replace everything we are doing in the sea with machines," she says, "But it's the full tool box approach that we see."

"We prefer to bring a full toolbox to solving problems and getting work done. There is a need for the glider, a need for the humans, and the AUV's, and the ROV's in the sea. So when we put an expedition together, we try to bring as many tools to the ship as possible."

Outside Magazine: Bam! Chocolaty Banana & Backcountry Recipes

If you eat my Bam! Chocolaty Banana recipe once a day for 365 days, you will have abs like this.

Thanks to Outside Magazine and Gina Begin for asking me to submit one of my world-famous Junior Ranger Backcountry recipes.

Great for big kids and little kids.

All of my recipes are plant-strong; that means much easier clean-up and transporting, since almost none of the plant-strong recipes require refrigeration for ingredients, as well as easy to turn over to the kids to make.

I gave Outside Magazine one of my favorites:

Bam! Chocolaty Banana
Love the sweetness of roasted bananas but want to try something on the simpler side? Kaki Flynn, Outward Bound professional guide and award-winning writer, takes her vegan tastes to the trail with this quick fix.

“I'm always eager to show people how easy it is to be plant strong in the backcountry,” says Kaki.

“This gooey, warm treat packs easily, especially for cold-weather trips.”

Bonus for being ultra-light on everything but flavor.

  • 1 banana
  • Handful of dark chocolate chips
  • Aluminum foil to wrap banana, but not really necessary. The banana cooks great in skin.
Peanut butter, sprinkles. Can get very creative, but find simple flavors work best in backcountry.

  • Keep the peel on the banana
  • Using pocketknife, slit banana along the length, about halfway through
    “You are creating a pocket,” explains Kaki
  • Fill slit with toppings and cook for 10 to 15 minutes
  • When done, the banana and toppings will be warm and gooey
  • Eat right out of the peel, using your spork or chopsticks
Kaki says that roasting by campfire works best.

Simply find a place along the edge to place your bananas.

“Resting on a rock as close to fire as you can works as well,” she adds.

If you’re without a campfire, use your stove by placing bananas in a row in frying pan over medium/low flame and cover.

Kaki loves the fact that there’s no cleanup with this recipe.

“Just fold up your banana peel and bam! you’re done.”

One of my favorite. Great for all ages at a campfire, with supervision.

Ingredients & Supplies
  • Apple
  • Stick
  • Fire
  • Extra: Cinnamon
    After tasting the apple, people almost never end up using, because the apple is so warm and gooey all by itself, but can sprinkle in a pan for people to roll apple.
Cooking Instructions
You really can't mess this up:
  • Cook the apple until it looks done.
    Think of these as "advanced marshmallow making" - same concept - some people like super crisp and blackened, some just like them warmed up.
  • What if I drop in the fire?
    Doesn't matter. Scrape of skin with a knife.
  • Takes 10-15 minutes to make.

Have great Junior Ranger backcountry recipes? Share them below, or send me links. 

Plant-strong recipes, please.