Help Create Robotic Oysters that Respond to Noise Pollution and Toxic Waste

Rendering of oyster museum exhibit display.

Create robotic oysters to help fight climate change! 

Project description

Are you interested in doing something creative with your computer science and engineering skills to raise awareness about climate change? Then this project is for you!

We're seeking students who are passionate about environmental justice but also have a sense of humor. You will work directly with Professor Stephanie Rothenberg, chair and professor in the Department of Art, to use your strong skills in computer science, AI, and engineering to create a series of robotic oysters that perform various functions related to stopping climate change. These include detecting sound (yes, oysters can hear!) and filtering toxic water (yes, those little oysters can filter over 50 gallons per day!).

The robotic oysters will be used in 2 interactive art installations that will be publicly displayed in Buffalo, and also nationally. Each installation focuses on different aspects of climate change and its impact on our oceans and marine life. In addition to the robotic oysters, you will be able to develop captivating data visualizations that will be projected on large screens in the installations. One of the installations uses sound recordings and sonic mapping.

Project outcome

  • You will create a prototype of the project's robotic oyster and have produced data visualizations 
  • You will learn how to think outside the box that will lead to innovative and unique solutions for addressing climate change that utilize an unconventional combination of CS + AI + engineering + creativity and the arts!
  • You will learn to work with a broad range of collaborators using an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving that include not only visual artists but also scientists, activists, musicians and more!
  • You will learn how to use underwater sound recording devices to create sonic data mappings.
  • In addition to the scientific and technical community, you will learn how to use your skills for more inclusive, social justice purposes, that enable you to speak to a broader, public audience.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment About 6-9 months
Start time Winter (December or January)
In-person, remote, or hybrid? Hybrid
Level of collaboration Individual student project
Benefits Research experience; academic credit; work study; stipend
Who is eligible Juniors and seniors who know how to code and are proficient in Processing (Arduino) and Python (Raspberry Pi/Neopixel). Additional skills in internet design/development a plus.

Core partners

Project mentor

Stephanie Rothenberg

Professor and Chair


Phone: (716) 645-0546


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

The specific preparation activities for this project will be customized through discussions between you and your project mentor. Please be sure to ask them for the instructions to complete the required preparation activities.