Mark Fontenot - Science


Desert Tortoise Preservation

The Desert Tortoise is the iconic wild animal of the Mojave Desert, Despite the animal's inherent charm, it faces many threats, including heavy predation related to building and development moving closer to its sensitive habitat. More development increases the raven population (tortoise predators). The Desert Tortoise has subsequently undergone a severe decline in numbers over the last few decades, and is now threatened with extinction.

Students will engage directly with onsite research scientists, and study movement patterns, environmental conditions, life-cycles, behavior and biology, predators and predation patterns, in order to develop new methods for protection of this delicate species. Students will utilize 4-D Geospatial technologies from NASA (World Wind), real-time data aquisition with probes and sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's) and rovers to help solve these difficult problems. They will create desert maps viewable in World Wind, of the tortoises' locations and movements. Student-robotics programs will also involve the development of rover vehicles to help in tracking tortoises, recording their movements, and facilitating important behavioural observations. These collaborative, cutting-edge activities stand a high probability in finding new means to reduce predation on tortoises.

Click here for video of robot testing operations


Desert Tortoise Hatchling


                     Encroaching Ravens

Rover Design and Development

Initial rover development and electronic circuit programming: Student Eli White and teacher Mark Fontenot

Rover close-up 2- front viewThe mad scientists

Testing design



Eli demonstrating rover programming and operation project scientist/mentor Tim Shields, Superintendent Michael Byer and teacher Mark Fontenot

© Trillium Learning 2017        +1 973-907-2332