Girls from underprivileged backgrounds to design, build, and deploy real underwater robots in breakthrough education program Mission: Tampa Bay

National Geographic Explorer Erika Bergman will lead 20 girls from Hillsborough County who have challenging backgrounds but strong skills in S.T.E.M. fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) on a first-in-the-nation mission. 

Tampa, Florida –A group of teenage girls from Tampa will push the boundaries of exploration this weekend, controlling an undersea robot they built themselves as part of a new way of learning being pioneered in the Tampa Bay area. 

In a jam-packed weekend at Girls Underwater Robot Camp, twenty girls will construct submarine drones at MOSI on Friday, spend the night at The Florida Aquarium on Saturday, and wake up on Sunday to test their robots in a tank exhibit and then deploy and pilot them through the waters of Tampa Bay from the deck of a catamaran. 

The girls range in age from 10 to 15, and they all come from challenging circumstances. Mission: Tampa Bay aims to break the cycle of poverty by reaching out to bright students from underprivileged backgrounds and making the most of their desire to learn about S.T.E.M. fields – science, technology, engineering, and math. These girls were selected based on the skills they have shown in the classroom. 

Erika Bergman, a National Geographic Explorer and manned submersible pilot, will guide the girls through their experience. Bergman is a worldwide advocate for female explorers, scientists, and engineers; she is hosting the Girls Underwater Robot Camp through a partnership between National Geographic Learning and her organization, GEECs – Global Engineering & Exploration Counselors. 

About Mission: Tampa Bay:
Mission: Tampa Bay is a collaboration between National Geographic and five members of the Tampa Bay STEM Network: Hillsborough County Public Schools, The Florida Aquarium, the Museum of Science & Industry, Million Women Mentors, and Tampa Bay TechStart. 

About the Museum of Science & Industry: MOSI, the Museum of Science & Industry, is Tampa Bay's community-supported science center. At MOSI, people of all ages (this means you!) can see and do amazing things every day. MOSI (we pronounce it MOH’-zee) is the largest science center in the Southeast, and a not-for-profit magnet for S.T.E.A.M. innovation and cutting-edge education where we make a difference in people’s lives by making science real for people of all ages and backgrounds. For more information about MOSI, visit

About The Florida Aquarium: The Florida Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution whose mission is to entertain, educate and inspire stewardship about our natural environment. The Florida Aquarium is home to more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals representing species from Florida and around the world. For more information about The Florida Aquarium, visit