Gadgets and Gizmos: Inside the Nat Geo Tech Lab

Gadgets and Gizmos: Inside the Nat Geo Tech Lab

Meet the engineers who create technology for National Geographic expeditions.


5 - 12


Biology, Engineering

NG Live

This video was filmed on March 24, 2012 as part of the National Geographic Live! Lecture series at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., United States.


National Geographic's Mark Bauman, Eric Berkenpas, and Mike Shepard give a special look at the gadgets and gizmos inside the Nat Geo technology lab. There is nothing National Geographic's team of intrepid engineers can't create to get the "shot" from high in the sky or the deepest depths of the ocean. Mark Bauman is the executive vice president of National Geographic Television. Eric Berkenpas is lead engineer of a small engineering team that develops specialized equipment to help National Geographic media groups, collaborating researchers, and explorers meet their technology needs in the field. Mike Shepard, a design engineer, has specialized in designing submersible equipment and has been a field engineer for 14 National Geographic projects.


  • Introduction: How do you get that extreme "shot?" (start-1:52 min.)

  • Video: attempting to put a Crittercam on a great white shark (1:53-4:47 min.)

  • About Crittercams: a camera, a computer, and deployment (4:48-5:48 min.)

  • Video: a great white shark's point of view (5:49-6:23 min.)

  • Building cameras for Australian sea lions during a snowstorm (6:24-7:09 min.)

  • Video: First-ever observed benthic feeding behavior of Australian sea lions (7:10-7:46 min.)

  • Video: First-ever video of a humpback whale calf nursing and bubblenet feeding (7:47-8:36 min.)

  • Building camera traps to capture natural animal behavior: mountain lion (8:37-9:46 min.)

  • Using helicopters as cameras (9:47-10:58 min.)

  • Video: When helicopters crash (10:59-11:44 min.)

  • Developing stable helicopters and aerial views of Guam (11:45-13:00 min.)

  • Exploring the ocean with dropcams (13:01-16:27 min.)

  • Getting footage from the deepest parts of the ocean (16:28-20:34 min.)

  • The Sun Sphere lights up the bottom of the ocean: Santorini (20:35-22:03 min.)

  • Helping underwater archaeologists overcome challenges (22:04-23:18 min.)

  • Video: Laser scanning a skull (23:19-24:13 min.)

  • Sub Bottom Profiler: x-ray vision at the bottom of lakes (24:14-25:21 min.)

  • Video: discovering ancient underwater walls (25:22-27:27 min.)


Strategies for Using Video in a Variety of Learning Environments

  • Have students preview several of the videos and choose the one they find most inspiring. Have students describe in writing a conversation they might have with the speaker(s).
  • Freeze the video on a relevant image. Have students observe details in the still image and jot down predictions of what the full video might address. Discuss students’ ideas before and after watching the video.
  • Pose an open-ended question before students watch the video, and have them discuss their ideas before and after in small groups.
  • Have students determine what they think the key message of this video is. Was the speaker effective in getting his or her message across?
  • Show a short clip to engage students during class, and then have students watch the full video at home and write a paragraph responding to the content or a question you give them.
  • Have students note statements that represent facts or opinions, including where it’s difficult to tell the difference. What further research might help distinguish facts vs. opinions? How might the speaker’s viewpoint compare with others’ viewpoints about a topic?
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Page Producers
Nina Page, National Geographic Society
Samantha Zuhlke, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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