SeaPerch Robotics

BY Avery Lee

Provincetown Public Schools

Project Description

This request for funding will support a proposed Sea Perch project which will engage Middle Years Program (grades 5-8) STEAM students in the design, construction and operation/application of underwater remotely-controlled vehicles (ROV). Sea Perch is an underwater robotics program where students are introduced to marine engineering concepts (buoyancy, displacement, propulsion, physics of motion), ocean science (biological sampling, ocean exploration), the engineering and design process (ship and submarine design), and build their own underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle – ROV (soldering, assembling the electronics of a remote control system, making the frame). Learning Objective # 1: Engage students in STEAM activities through the construction of an ROV: The ROVs robots are built from pre-cut kits sold by SeaPerch. The kits include PVC pipe, wire, small motors, film canisters, wax, switches, small propellers and circuit board components. It typically takes about 10 hours for students to build and test a SeaPerch robot. Learning Objective # 2: Build on early success and interest in design-based problem-solving activities: Students in grades 5 and 6 STEAM courses started the year with a boat design challenge. We did so to introduce the steps of the engineering design process, start off an ocean unit, to promote team building, and to explicitly focus on collaborative skills. I am hoping to pilot the Sea Perch program this year with the 5th and 6th graders to further develop the success of this first unit.

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)

During this proposed pilot year, students will follow the design for a standard Sea Perch ROV by completing the kit-based constructions during STEAM class where we will test them. Then students will do a presentation of their completed ROVs for students, parents and community members participating in our annual exhibition of student works, World of Inquiry. This project will bring to life, what students and staff know as the Design Cycle, a series of non-linear steps: inquiring and analyzing, developing ideas, creating the solution, and evaluating the design. STEAM lessons are evaluated for a grade based on elements of the Design Cycle. STEAM classwork also informs student requirements in the Sciences. The curriculum and assessments of student work for both Science and STEAM classes are shaped by the Next Generation Science Standards. The results of the Sea Perch Project will inform us about how well this kind of project helps students meet the learning outcomes connected to those standards. Lastly, the process of completing this project will have engaged students in problem-solving as part of a diverse team of learners who need to be well organized, work with tools, follow directions, and meet a deadline. And that’s all be fore they go into the presentation of their efforts. The Sea Perch Project will have engaged students in the ever-present Inquiry Cycle steps of investigation, development of awareness and understanding, taking action and reflecting on ones’s efforts and results.

Benefit to the students and the school

This request for funding will support a proposed Sea Perch Project, and will engage 5th and 6th grade STEAM students in the design, construction and operation of an underwater remotely-controlled vehicle (ROV). The project has ties to science, design and math classes and will serve to extend student learning. I am new to teaching and I am currently responsible for STEAM lessons in grades K-8. I also teach 7th and 8th grade science. The Sea Perch unit is inspired by my participation in a workshop held by the Cape Cod STEM Network this summer. There I built an ROV and experimented with its capabilities underwater. This workshop furthered my education in underwater geophysics while also inspiring me to connect students to this valuable exploration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I would love to bring these tools and this experience to my classroom and middle years students in grades 5-8. In the future there could be opportunities for students to create their own ROV design. There are also local, regional, and state competitions where students take their ROVs and run them through obstacle courses. Since the STEAM curriculum is just being developed, this project could plant important seeds. STEAM activities are embedded in the Next Generation Science Standards, especially in the design focus found in the technology/engineering standards.

For more information about Sea Perch and its many educational extensions, please consider this link:

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)

November and December 2015: Previous to the proposed purchase of the Sea Perch Kits, students will be immersed in background research studies of how ROVs are used in real scientific explorations. Plans for a visit to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod are underway so that students can see a live demonstration of ROV design and applied research.

January and February 2016: Sea Perch Kits will be used in a weekly 2-hour STEAM Lab over a 10 week period beginning in January.

March 2016: Students will test their ROVs in a nearby swimming pool. Students will present the results of their constructions to their fellow classmates and Middle Years Program classmates.

June 2016: Students will present the results of this unit and project to a large public audience as part of our annual exhibition of student works, the World of Inquiry. Follow-up plans for extended studies, similar or same projects will be documented in unit planners and curriculum vertical planners.