During the MITS 2013 Summer Professional Development Institute for High School Teachers, Under the Periscope: Marinating Your STEM Curriculum with Marine Science, Engineering Design and Literacy Connections, the institute participants built and tested their own model ROVs or SeaPerch. SeaPerch is a national program through which educators can purchase kits to build and work with underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). The ROVs are constructed from PVC pipe and other readily available materials and are designed to be easily modified and adapted. The SeaPerch can be “hacked” to carry data-collecting instruments, cameras, and plankton nets making it a great vehicle for fun and hands-on science.

During the High School Teacher’s Institute held at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, the participants visited the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and spend half a day with Dr. Anthony Tarantino, learning about the underwater vehicles used by oceanographic researchers. They also participated in a tour of the DeepSea Challenger used by James Cameron to explore Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the global ocean. They then returned to the Academy and spent 2 days building their own ROVs. They honed their building skills by cutting and putting together PVC pipe, soldering their electronic control boxes, wiring and attaching their motors, and making sure it all worked properly. Once completed, they tested their ROVs in the Cape Cod Canal. Teachers not only got to drive their SeaPerch but they were also able to attach an underwater camera to their ROVs to explore the bottom of the canal and look at the creatures living around the pier. They also ran an ROV with plankton net in tow and then examined the organisms that they caught back in the lab. The participants explored how to incorporate ROVs into their science and engineering classes back at school. MITS provided curriculum and resources to support each teacher’s efforts to use the SeaPerch productively with their students. The SeaPerch kits were donated to MITS by AUVSI for the institute. Each of the teachers participating in the institute received a kit and constructed their own ROV.

SeaPerch is a national program supported by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). The SeaPerch is great addition to a teacher’s marine and environmental science courses and is an exciting project for engineering and technical education classes. AUVSI holds a yearly National SeaPerch Challenge at different venues around the country which brings together students and teachers to meet a different Challenge develop by the National SeaPerch program. The challenge is different each year.